For Shiver and Acorn Media, David Suchet embarks on a very personal journey as the man behind the moustache explores Agatha Christie’s most enduring character at the end of this, the series where he plays Poirot for the very last time.
The celebrated actor will take a poignant trip to discover the history of his most famous TV creation as he reveals how he has approached the role of the iconic detective of the past 25 years.
“Hercule Poirot is for me, much more than the character on the written page. Hercule Poirot for me almost is a real person. He is the person who was responsible for my life for twenty five years. I’ve got to know him, I’ve lived him, he’s my invisible closest and best friend.” David Suchet
David travels to Belgium as he attempts to unlock the mystery behind the great detective, discovers what the Belgians think about one of their most famous sons and allows our cameras to film behind the scenes on the last days of filming.
Having first premiered on ITV on 1989, a quarter of a century and 13 series later Poirot is a global phenomenon watched by 700 million viewers worldwide.
As the final chapters of TV’s favourite detective draw to a close, emotions are running high as David films his last scenes. The great detective’s appearance in the film is frail and David reveals he lost almost two stone ahead of filming to emphasis the fragility of the once robust man.
Agatha Christie wrote Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case in 1942 but it was locked in a bank vault for thirty years, finally published in 1975. Such was the furore over its content that it was covered on the front page of the New York Times showing the extraordinary impact the character had around the world.
Talking about filming those final scenes, David said, “(It was) Terrible, awful, I’ll never forget it. It was the hardest moment of filming.”
Geoffrey Wansall, a close friend of David and biographer of the book Poirot and Me, who witnessed those last scenes being filmed explains, “For a character actor of his (David) intensity to lose someone he’s been completely involved with, absorbed in for 25 years is a personal tragedy.”
The actor is seen returning to Agatha Christie’s holiday home, Greenway, having been invited to first meet the author’s family here 25 years ago when he was first cast in the role. The picturesque location also appears in Dead Man’s Folly, the last of the final films to be shot and viewers will see David embracing the character one last time as he takes his final steps as Poirot.
In all the stories Poirot is portrayed very vividly but the drama’s audience know very little about his past other than he came to England retired, having been head of the Brussels police force.
Hoping to find out more about the notoriously proud Belgian, the actor heads to the legendary character’s home country. The trip proved particularly poignant as David made the trip on the Orient Express, the location of the most famous of Christie’s Poirot stories and on which he filmed his adaptation of the classic novel.
David says, “Of all the crimes he solved over his remarkable career, one case would challenge him to breaking point, Murder on the Orient Express. After twenty years of playing Poirot I knew it was going to be one of the most challenging performances I would ever have to play.”
Whilst in Brussels David visits the small town of Ellezelles which has claimed Poirot as its own and meets Belgium crime writer Stan Lauryssen, who won the Hercule Poirot award for crime writing, Brussels Mayor Freddy Thielemans and Chief of Police Guido Van Wymersch.
Discussing their thoughts on the character’s popularity, Mayor Freddy Thielemans tells David, “We’re proud because he solved matters the English couldn’t solve and your accent was not too bad.”
Being Poirot airs on ITV, Wednesday 13th November at 22.35. The film was produced and directed for Shiver by Chris Malone.