Being Poirot

Synopsis: As 25 years of playing one of television's greatest icons come to an end David Suchet attempts to unravel the mysterious appeal of the great detective Hercule Poirot - and reveals what it has been like to play one of fiction's most enduring and enigmatic creations. In this entertaining and revealing documentary. Suchet allows the camera crew to follow him as he prepares for the emotional final days' filming on set. Suchet returns to Agatha Christie's Summer home in Devon, where he first met the author's family after taking on the role a quarter of a century ago, and travels to Belgium as he attempts to find Poirot's roots and discover what the Belgians think of one of their most famous sons.
48 min


Hercule Poirot?

Hercule Poirot is, for me,

much more than the character

on the written page.

Hercule Poirot, for me,

almost is a real person.

You're a detective.

I am THE detective, Colonel Curtis.

He is the person who was responsible

for my life for 25 years.

The truth...

It has the habit of revealing itself.

I've got to know him,

I've lived him...

No-one can always be right.

But I am. Always, I am right.

It is so invariable, it startles me!

He's my invisible...closest

and best friend.

'They have been good days.'


'Agatha Christie's Poirot

premiered on television in 1989.'

Voila. Is there nothing

to which Hercule Poirot

can not turn his finger?

'A quarter of a century

and 13 series later,

it's a global phenomenon,

watched by 700 million viewers

in 100 countries worldwide.

It's 6:
00 in the morning...'

Thank you very much, thank you.

'..and Sean, my driver,

is taking me to work.

I'm heading to Pinewood Studios

to film the last series of Poirot.

This will be one of the hardest days

of my acting life

because today...

Poirot will die.'

(AS HASTINGS) I say, old chap,

you're looking pretty awful.

Don't you think I should call

a doctor?


Oh, what good would that do?

No, mon ami. What will be, will be.

Getting into character is a

very detailed process for me,

beginning from the moment I'm dressed

and I get into the car,

with Sean driving me.

Because at that point,

I'm learning lines.

But then I got to make-up

and then the serious business of the

day begins for me.


David is a method actor.

He dieted for probably about

nine months

to lose, I think, about two stone.

I'm all right.

Whereas in all the other films,

he looks like a robust little man,

in Curtain, he looks like a little

sack of bones in a suit.

It'll be good if it helps him

look really, really ill. Mmm.

'Agatha Christie does the most

extraordinary thing.

It's the only story in which you see

Poirot as a little old man.

And it's told through the eyes of

Captain Hastings.'


'The key to it, for me,

is that moustache.

Once that moustache goes on that lip,

I think it's true to say you would

be speaking to Hercule Poirot.'

(AS POIROT) Make sure it does not

droop a little bit. Yes.

Yes, that is better.

'Curtain, Poirot's last case, was

written by Agatha Christie in 1942.

Intended for publication after her


it was hidden in a bank vault for 30

years before publication in 1975.'

He knows he has to die.


He could never take the ignominy

of being accused of a murder

and then hung.

We all knew that the final scenes

were coming up

and we'd, in a sense, prepared.

But it was nevertheless

a most remarkable atmosphere.

Huge sound stage at Pinewood,

with a set built in the centre

of it.

The room itself,

which contained a bed and walls,

in which he was gonna die,

was not crowded;

it was deliberately kept quiet.


And now...I need to think.

But Poirot -

Go down to breakfast, mon ami.

The case, it is ended.

And outside, the set itself,

the rest of the crew,

was exceptionally quiet.

Sheila, David's wife,

was sitting beside the sound man.


'To film it was one of the most

extraordinary experiences,

to have - or to play -

a man who...dies.'

Forgive me.



End camera.


It's a difficult day.

It's difficult.

Cos he feels and he feels

the character very deeply.

I think every time he shoots it,

it's going to take more out of him.


For a character actor of his


to lose someone he's been completely

involved and absorbed in

for 25 years...

is a personal tragedy.

Terrible. It was awful.

I'll never forget it.

The hardest, hardest moment

of filming.


(AS POIROT) What a day.

What a moment.

'When Curtain was published,

such was the sensation

at the news of Poirot's death,

that it made the front page of the

New York Times.

It showed the extraordinary impact

of a strange little character,

who, for many,

had seemed like a real person.

Hercule Poirot has been the most

important role in my acting career.

You might think you know Poirot

but I'd like to show you what goes on

inside those

(AS POIROT) little grey cells.

Along the way, we'll find out

why this remarkable little man

is so loved around the world.

To begin to understand Poirot,

we need to go back to the beginning.

I am on my way to the seaside town

of Torquay

and remembering a visit I made

25 years ago.'

He said to me, "I've been offered

the role of Poirot."

He said, "What do you think?"

I said, "Well, I would take it.

I wouldn't hesitate."

I said, "The only piece of advice

I'll give you

is it's going to change your life."

And he said, "Oh, don't be so

silly." I said, "Well, it will."

So, a very special place.

Agatha Christie's house.

'Greenway was Agatha Christie's

summer home

from 1938 until her death in 1976.

Soon after I was cast

as Hercule Poirot,

I was invited here to meet her


I remember one particular lunch I had

with Agatha Christie's daughter


and her husband Antony Hicks.

And they said to me,

"We want the audience to be able

to smile with Poirot

but never laugh at him.

And that's why you have been chosen

to play the role."

'Getting the approval of Agatha

Christie's family was crucial for me

before my life as Poirot began.

Today, I've come back to meet

her grandson, Mathew Prichard.'

Here we are in Devonshire,

where Poirot was actually born.

How do you think he came to be?

Well, of course it was long before

my time

but, erm...I'm told that a bus

drew up

in Union Square in Torquay.

And out of it trooped a whole

busload of Belgian refugees,

one of whom was a little man,

who, surprisingly enough, David,

looked a bit like you.

Do you fancy a pint of beer,

if there's any left?

Non, merci.

I cannot yet bring myself to enjoy

the English public house.

My grandmother must have seen him

and she must have thought,

"Well, there's my detective."

'Poirot was introduced to the world

in 1920

as a World War I Belgian refugee

in Agatha Christie's first book,

The Mysterious Affair At Styles.'

(READS) Poirot was an

extraordinary-looking little man.

He was hardly more than 5'4" but

carried himself with great dignity.

The neatness of his attire

was almost incredible.



(READS) As a detective, his flair

had been extraordinary

and he had achieved triumphs

by unravelling some of the most

baffling cases of the day.

The handwriting on this letter

shouts your guilt.

You are a heartless murderer.

'Agatha Christie could never have


that Poirot would become so famous,

appearing in over 50 short stories

and 33 novels.'

Oh, look. Now, is this a real one

that she used?

That is a real one. She would have

taken this to the Middle East.

She would have hammered out

Death On The Nile

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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