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Agatha Christie's Poirot
POIROT.png
Genre Crime drama
Starring David Suchet
Hugh Fraser
Philip Jackson
Pauline Moran
Zoë Wanamaker
David Yelland
Composer(s) Christopher Gunning
Country of origin  United Kingdom
No. of episodes 62 aired in UK (as of 3 January 2010) (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 36 x ~50 minutes
25 x ~100 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Original run 8 January 1989 – present

Agatha Christie's Poirot is a British television drama that has aired on ITV since 1989. It stars David Suchet as Agatha Christie's fictional detective Hercule Poirot. It was originally made by LWT and is now made by ITV Studios. In the United States, it airs as Poirot.

Suchet was recommended for the part by Christie's family, who had seen him appear as Blott in the TV adaptation of Tom Sharpe's Blott on the Landscape.[1] Suchet said that he prepared for the part by reading all the Poirot novels and every short story, and copying out every piece of description about the character.[2][3][4] Suchet himself said to The Strand magazine: "What I did was, I had my file on one side of me and a pile of stories on the other side and day after day, week after week, I plowed through most of Agatha Christie’s novels about Hercule Poirot and wrote down characteristics until I had a file full of documentation of the character. And then it was my business not only to know what he was like, but to gradually become him. I had to become him before we started shooting."[5]

According to many critics and enthusiasts, Suchet's characterisation is considered to be the most accurate interpretation of all the actors who have played Poirot, and the closest to the character in the books.[6]

In 2007 Suchet spoke of his desire to film all the remaining stories in the canon and hopes to achieve this by the time of his 65th birthday (May 2011).[7] In February 2009 it was announced that another series of four stories has been commissioned by ITV.[8] The four novels comprise "The Clocks,"[9], "Three Act Tragedy,"[10], "Hallowe'en Party,"[11], and "Murder on the Orient Express".

Contents

Cast

David Suchet as Poirot, pictured on the cover of the Series 11 DVD release

Recurring cast:

Episodes

Development of the series

Clive Exton in partnership with producer Brian Eastman adapted the pilot episode and then twenty of the stories between 1989 and 2001, alongside many short story adaptations. "Principal adapter" Exton wrote The ABC Murders for the series and more controversially The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.[12] It was described as "ingenious" in its dramatic conceit in attempting to interpret a denouement which relies upon a first-person narrative, but it did not receive unanimous praise from critics.[13]

Anthony Horowitz is another prolific writer for the series, adapting three novels and nine short stories,[14] while comedian and novelist Mark Gatiss has written one episode and also starred in the series,[15] as has Peter Flannery.

Episodes released in 2003 and thereafter lack Fraser, Jackson, and Moran, who had appeared in most episodes before then. The absence of their characters (Hastings, Inspector Japp, and Miss Lemon) is consistent with the books on which the scripts were based. The later episodes lack the humour of the earlier, as well as their signature theme music, and are written and scored in a more sombre fashion, depicting an older and somewhat darker Poirot. This is partly because the novels adapted are themselves darker and more psychologically driven.[13]

Alongside recurring characters, the early series featured several actors who later achieved greater fame, such as Joely Richardson, ("The Dream", 1989), Samantha Bond, ("The Adventure of the Cheap Flat", 1990), Christopher Eccleston (One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, 1992), Hermione Norris ("Jewel Robbery at The Grand Metropolitan", 1993), Damian Lewis (Hickory Dickory Dock, 1995), Jamie Bamber (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, 2000) and Russell Tovey (Evil Under the Sun, 2001).

Series nine (2003 – 2004) featured James Fox as Colonel Race in Death on the Nile, alongside an "all-star cast" which included Emily Blunt, Daisy Donovan, and David Soul, while The Hollow featured his older brother Edward Fox as Gudgeon the butler.[16]

Other veteran actors who have appeared in the later series include: Geraldine James, (After the Funeral, 2006), Elliot Gould, Lindsay Duncan and Roger Lloyd Pack, (The Mystery of the Blue Train, 2006), Sian Phillips (Mrs McGinty's Dead, 2008) and Tim Curry (Appointment with Death, 2008).

Six actors have appeared as different characters in the series: Nicholas Farrell appeared as Donald Fraser in The ABC Murders (1989) and then as Major Knighton in The Mystery of the Blue Train (2005),[17] Simon Shepherd appeared as David Hall in "Jewel Robbery at The Grand Metropolitan" (1993) and then as Dr Rendell in Mrs McGinty's Dead (2008) and Carol MacReady appeared as Mildred Croft in Peril at End House (1990) and then as Miss Johnson in Cat Among the Pigeons (2008).[18] Meanwhile, David Yelland first appeared as Laverton West in "Murder in the Mews" (1989), but has played the recurring character of Poirot's manservant George since 2006. Pip Torrens first played Major Rich in the "The Mystery of the Spanish Chest" (1991), and then returned to the series to play Jeremy Cloade in Taken at the Flood (2006). Lucy Liemann appeared first in Cards on the Table (2005) as Miss Burgess and later in 2008 as Sonia in Third Girl.

Reception

Agatha Christie's grandson Mathew has commented: “Personally, I regret very much that she [Agatha Christie] never saw David Suchet. I think that visually he is much the most convincing and perhaps he manages to convey to the viewer just enough of the irritation that we always associate with the perfectionist, to be convincing!”[19]

In 1989, the series was nominated for four BAFTA awards in the category of Best Graphics, Best Design (Episodes 1, 2, 5, 8 & 10), Best Costume Design (Episodes 2, 4, 7, 8 & 10), and Best Original Television Music, winning all but the nomination for Best Design. It was also nominated for Best Television Drama Series in 1990 and 1991, and Suchet was nominated for Best Actor in 1991. In total between 1989 and 1991, the series received 20 nominations.[20]

In 1992, writers David Renwick and Michael Baker received an Edgar Award in the category "Best Episode in a TV Series" from the Mystery Writers of America for the Second Series episode The Lost Mine, which, like the other Agatha Christie's Poirot episodes, aired in the U.S. as part of the PBS anthology series Mystery![21]

More recently, the series has been described by some critics as going "off piste"[22] with new writers and plot changes (as opposed to the embellishments of the short story adaptations). Significantly, it was noted that the adaptations of Five Little Pigs (by Kevin Elyot) and Cards on the Table had a homosexual undercurrent which was not present in the novels.[13] The adaptation of Cards on The Table also strayed considerably from the original ending, which was agreed with the Christie Estate.

Yet the New Year Day 2006 episode of The Mystery of the Blue Train attracted a high 30% audience rating (7.4 million viewers)[23], and the show's enduring popularity was shown once again in August, 2008 when a repeat received 3.2 million viewers and a 16% of the viewing population.[24] The 2008 series drew a 23.5% share of the viewing population, although only reaching 9.8% of the viewers between the ages of 16-34. The total figures were up on its previous slot average of 4.5 million viewers.[25]

DVD releases

All episodes so far aired of Agatha Christie's Poirot have been released on DVD in the UK (Region 2) and in North America (Region 1). In 2006, a magazine collection, also titled Agatha Christie's Poirot, was first released with a DVD of an episode and an accompanying magazine that looks into the episode, the life of Agatha Christie and the world of the 1930s, with each issue.

The eight latest episodes have been released individually and as a boxed set on DVD in Australia (Region 4), as well as the complete Series One, Two, Three, and Four, with Series 5 out in August 2008.

References

  1. ^ Walton, James (2008-09-09). "David Suchet: Poirot". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/3560217/David-Suchet-Poirot.html. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  2. ^ Interview: Dillin, John. "The Actor Behind Popular `Poirot'" - The Christian Science Monitor. - March 25, 1992.
  3. ^ Interview: Dudley, Jane. "Award-winning actor David Suchet plays Robert Maxwell in a gripping account of the dramatic final stage of the media tycoon's life" - BBC.
  4. ^ Interview: Dudley, Jane. "Inside the mind of a media monster" - The Yorkshire Post. - 27 April 2007.
  5. ^ J D Hobbs. "Suchet's Poirot". Poirot.us. http://www.poirot.us/suchet.php. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  6. ^ "Drama Faces — David Suchet". BBC. 1946-05-02. http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/faces/david_suchet.shtml. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  7. ^ "Meet the man behind the character". ITV.com. 2007-06-18. http://www.itv.com/Drama/classiccrime/poirot/Castinterviews/DavidSuchetinterview/default.html. Retrieved 2009-05-26.   (Interview with David Suchet.)
  8. ^ Turner, Mimi (2009-02-10). "ITV commissions Agatha Christie dramas". Hollywoodreporter.com. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i73b3660e2c6025e692f9b223c946e6b9. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  9. ^ "Press releases | Programme press releases | David Suchet returns as Poirot in The Clocks - ITV Press Centre". Itv.com. http://www.itv.com/presscentre/pressreleases/programmepressreleases/davidsuchetreturnsaspoirotintheclocks/default.html. Retrieved 2009-06-03.  
  10. ^ "David Suchet is Hercule Poirot in Three Act Tragedy - ITV Media". Itv.com. http://www.itvmedia.co.uk/inside-itv/itv-news/david-suchet-is-hercule-poirot-in-three-act-tragedy. Retrieved 2009-10-27.  
  11. ^ "David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker reunite in The Hallowe’en Party - ITV Media". Itv.com. http://www.itvmedia.co.uk/inside-itv/itv-news/david-suchet-and-zoe-wanamaker-reunite-in-the-halloween-party. Retrieved 2009-10-27.  
  12. ^ "Clive Exton — Obituaries, News". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/clive-exton-462048.html. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  13. ^ a b c "BFI Screenonline: Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989-)". Screenonline.org.uk. http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/976390/. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  14. ^ "Work : Television". Anthony Horowitz. http://anthonyhorowitz.com/work/television.html. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  15. ^ "Classic Crime | Poirot | Episode guides | Cat among the pigeons — ITV Drama". Itv.com. http://www.itv.com/Drama/classiccrime/poirot/Episodeguides/Catamongthepigeons/default.html. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  16. ^ "Agatha Christie's Poirot". ITV.com. 2007-07-13. http://www.itv.com/Drama/classiccrime/poirot/Abouttheshow/default.html.  
  17. ^ "Nicholas Farrell". Imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0268297/. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  18. ^ "Carol MacReady". Imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0534315/. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  19. ^ "Agatha Christie: Characters — Poirot". Agatha Christie Limited. http://www.agathachristie.com/story-explorer/characters/poirot/. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  20. ^ "Awards Database — The BAFTA site". Bafta.org. http://www.bafta.org/awards-database.html?sq=Agatha+Christie%27s+Poirot. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  21. ^ "The Edgar Awards Database". Myster Writers of America (TheEdgars.com). http://www.theedgars.com/edgarsDB/index.php. Retrieved 2009-05-26.  
  22. ^ Square Eyes 26-28 September (2008-09-26). "The Stage / TV Today / Square Eyes 26-28 September". Blogs.thestage.co.uk. http://blogs.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/2008/09/square-eyes-2628-september/index.html. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  23. ^ Tryhorn, Chris (2006-01-03). "ITV slays rivals with Poirot film". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/jan/03/overnights3. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  24. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (2008-08-04). "BBC2's Tudors bow to Big Brother". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/aug/04/tvratings2. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  25. ^ Rogers, Jon (2008-09-18). "Ratings Focus: Poirot and Tess". Broadcastnow.co.uk. http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/ratings/indepth/2008/09/ratings_focus_poirot_and_tess.html. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  

External links

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