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David Suchet

David Suchet in 2003
Born 2 May 1946 (1946-05-02) (age 63)
London, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1970-present
Spouse(s) Sheila Ferris (1976–present)

David Suchet (pronounced /ˈsuːʃeɪ/ SOO-shay), OBE (born 2 May 1946) is an English actor, known for his work on British television. He is recognised for his RTS- and BPG award-winning performance as Augustus Melmotte in the 2001 British TV mini-drama The Way We Live Now, alongside Matthew Macfadyen and Paloma Baeza, and a 1991 British Academy Television Award (BAFTA) nomination.

He is perhaps best known, though, for his role as Agatha Christie's great detective Hercule Poirot in the long-running British TV dramatic series Poirot, alongside Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson and Pauline Moran.[1][2][3]

Suchet has an older brother, John Suchet, a British newsreader and television presenter. His father was Jack Suchet, who emigrated to England from South Africa in 1932, and trained to be a doctor at St Mary's Hospital, London.


Early life

Suchet was born in London,[4] the son of Joan Patricia (née Jarché; 1916-1992), an actress, and Jack Suchet, who emigrated from South Africa to England in 1932 and became a medical student at St Mary's Hospital, London in 1933.[5][6][7] Suchet's father was Jewish and his mother was an Anglican, though of Russian Jewish descent on her father's side; Suchet was brought up in the Anglican religion,[5][8][9] and has been a practising Anglican since 1986, having been confirmed in 2006.[10]

Suchet and his two brothers, John and Peter, attended Grenham House boarding school in Birchington-on-Sea, Kent; then, after attending another private school, Wellington School in Somerset, he took an interest in acting and joined the National Youth Theatre at the age of eighteen years. He studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where he now serves as a council member.



Early career

Suchet began his acting career at the Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Berkshire, and retains a great affection for the place, saying that it "fulfils my vision of a perfect theatre". In 1973, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company.


David Suchet performed the role of John in the play Oleanna at the Royal Court Theatre, London in 1993. It was directed by Harold Pinter and Lia Williams co-starred as Carol. He was also featured as Salieri from 1998 - 2000 in the Broadway production Amadeus. In 2007 at the Chichester Festival Theatre, he played a lead role as Cardinal Benelli in The Last Confession, about the death of Pope John Paul I.[11]

Television work

After making his first TV appearance in 1970, he made his first appearance on the big screen in the 1980 film version of A Tale of Two Cities. In 1980, he played Edward Teller, later developer of the US H-bomb in the joint BBC-US TV mini-series about the US Project Manhattan called Oppenheimer. In 1983, he played the insidious half-Chinese policeman with orders to kill British spy Sidney Reilly. In 1985, he played Blott in the television series Blott on the Landscape. Suchet appeared as Inspector Japp in the 1985 film adaptation of Lord Edgware Dies, screen-name Thirteen at Dinner, with Peter Ustinov portraying Poirot. In 1989, he took the title role himself for the long-running television series Agatha Christie's Poirot. Rather less well known, but quite an extraordinary performance nonetheless, is Suchet's portrayal of Sigmund Freud (young and old) in the 6-hour mini-series Freud, co-produced by the BBC in 1984.

In 2003, he played ambitious 16th century Englishman Cardinal Wolsey in the 2-part ITV drama Henry VIII opposite Ray Winstone as Henry VIII and Helena Bonham Carter as Anne Boleyn.

In May 2006, he played the role of the fallen press baron Robert Maxwell in Maxwell, a BBC2 dramatisation of the final 18 months of Maxwell's life.[2][3] During the same year, he voiced Poirot in the adventure game Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express.

In December 2006, he appeared on the ITV programme Extinct, presented by Sir Trevor McDonald and Zoe Ball, which saw Suchet and seven other well-known celebrities visit critically endangered species of animals and try and plead their case for the viewers so that they would pick up the phone and vote for the animal. The animal with the most votes would receive a large sum of money, which would be used to try and save them. Suchet and his animal, the Giant Panda, did not win; however, they finished in the top three. The winners were Pauline Collins and the Bengal Tiger.

At Christmas 2006, he played the vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing in a BBC adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. He appears in the disaster film Flood, released in August 2007, as the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at a time when London is devastated by flooding. Suchet appeared on daytime TV chat show Loose Women on 6 February 2008 to talk about his film The Bank Job, in which he played Lew Vogel, alongside Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows.

In 2008, he took part in the genealogy documentary series Who Do You Think You Are?, and discovered facts about his family history.[12] Suchet will also be starring in the 11th season of the British TV drama Poirot.

He starred in the 2009 CBC made-for-TV movie, Diverted.

He has also been cast as the main antagonist, Reacher Gilt, in the upcoming Sky TV adaptation of Going Postal, based on the book of the same name by Terry Pratchett.


Suchet is due to appear in the British film thriller Act of God as Benjamin Cisco, alongside Max Brown and Jenny Agutter. In 1987, Suchet played a bigfoot hunter in Harry and the Hendersons. He had key roles in two Michael Douglas films, A Perfect Murder and The In-Laws.

Radio work

His first broadcast job was to read a "Morning Story" for BBC Pebble Mill Talks producer David Shute. They had met at the Mayor of Stratford's annual cocktail party to welcome members of the Royal Shakespeare Company to their new season.

Suchet provided the voice of Aslan in Focus on the Family's radio version of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

Suchet performed as the voice of the villainous Dr. Julius No in BBC Radio 4's radio adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel Dr. No.

In March 2010 he played the title role in a BBC radio version of David Golder.

Other work

Canal Trust River Thames Alliance

Suchet is vice-president of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Trust, whose most challenging achievement to date has been securing funding (both via an appeal and from influencing government decisions) concerning the building of the new M6 Toll motorway where it cuts the lines of the Lichfield Canal and the Hatherton Canal, both of which the Trust wishes to see reopened. He has also been officially voted in as chairman of the River Thames Alliance in November 2005.[13] At the July 2006 Annual General Meeting of the River Thames Alliance, he agreed to continue being chairman for another year.

Awards and honours

Suchet's first major award was the Royal Television Society's award for best male actor for A Song for Europe in 1985. His performance as Agatha Christie's famous detective Hercule Poirot in the television series Poirot earned him a 1991 British Academy Television Award (BAFTA) nomination. In preparation for the role he says that he has read every novel and short story and compiled an extensive file on Poirot.[1][2][3]

Suchet was given a Variety Club Award in 1994 for best actor for portraying John in David Mamet's play Oleanna at the Royal Court Theatre, London. He later won another Variety Club Award (as well as a 2000 Tony nomination for best performance by a leading actor in a play) for his portrayal of Antonio Salieri in a revival of Amadeus.

Suchet was nominated for another Royal Television Society award in 2002 for his performance as Augustus Melmotte in The Way We Live Now, which also earned him a BAFTA nomination. The same year, he was appointed an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II.

On 10 October 2008, Suchet was awarded an honorary degree for his contributions to the Arts, from the University of Chichester. This was presented by the Vice Chancellor at The Chichester Festival Theatre.

On 24 November 2008, David Suchet won the 'Best Actor' accolade at the 2008 International Emmy Awards in New York for his role as tycoon Robert Maxwell in the 2007 BBC drama, Maxwell. He said: "It's been an unbelievable night for the Brits. I'm absolutely thrilled to bits, I can't believe it's really true. This is my first Emmy ever, and I can't tell you what it feels like to win for England because it's international, and to represent my acting community as well."[citation needed]

On 7 January 2009, David Suchet was awarded Freedom of the City of London, at the Guildhall in London.

Personal life

One of Suchet's hobbies is photography. His maternal grandfather, James Jarché, was a famous Fleet Street photographer notable for the first pictures of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and also for his pictures of Louis Blériot (1909) and the Siege of Sidney Street. Suchet first got into photography when his grandfather gave him a Kodak camera as a present. Suchet also plays the clarinet,[14] taught by Maurice Cowlin, and drums.[14]

He affectionately calls his fat suit for Hercule Poirot his "armadillo padding".

He lived in Pinner, a suburb in Greater London for many years.

Religious beliefs

Suchet stated in an interview with Strand Magazine, "I’m a Christian by faith. I like to think it sees me through a great deal of my life. I very much believe in the principles of Christianity and the principles of most religions, actually—that one has to abandon oneself to a higher good."[15]


In 1972, Suchet first met his wife, Sheila Ferris, at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, where they were both working; he says that he fell in love with her as soon as he saw her, and that it took a while to persuade her go out for a meal with him.[14] They were married on 30 June 1976, and they have one son, Robert, an officer in the Royal Marines and a daughter, Katherine, a physiotherapist.[6]

Suchet is the brother of John Suchet, a national news presenter for Five News. His maternal grandfather was James Jarché, a pioneering photographer.[16] The Jarché family was originally named Jarchy, and were Russian Jews.[12] Suchet's maternal grandfather's parents were also Eastern European Jews[5] and his paternal grandfather Isidor Shokhet (from shochet, meaning "kosher butcher" in Hebrew) lived in Kretinga, a city in the Pale of Settlement of the Russian Empire (now in Lithuania), and changed his surname to the Germanised Suchedowitz after escaping to Memel, Prussia, and then to Suchet after moving to Cape Town, South Africa.[12][17]

Suchet's maternal great-great-great grandfather George Jezzard was a master mariner. He was captain of the brig Hannah, which foundered nine miles off the coast of Suffolk during the terrible storm of May 28, 1860, in which more than 100 vessels were lost and at least 40 lives lost. Jezzard and his crew were saved by local rescuers just before their ship sank.[18]



  1. ^ a b Interview: Dillin, John. "The Actor Behind Popular `Poirot'" - The Christian Science Monitor. - 25 March 1992.
  2. ^ a b c 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.
  3. ^ a b c Interview: Dudley, Jane. "Inside the mind of a media monster". Yorkshire Post. 27 April 2007.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c "Suchet traces Russian Jewish roots". Burnley Express. 8 September 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2008. 
  6. ^ a b David Suchet Biography (1946-)
  7. ^ Fraser, Alasdair (24 November 2001). "Obituary of Jack Suchet:Obstetrician and gynaecologist who worked with Fleming on the role of penicillin in treating venereal disease". BMJ. Retrieved 25 September 2008. 
  8. ^ Telegraph. Retrieved on 2009-02-13.
  9. ^ "Suchet's Acts of Faith" - This Is London
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Chichester Festival Theatre
  12. ^ a b c Who do you think you are? BBC. Broadcast on 17 September 2008
  13. ^ River Thames Alliance
  14. ^ a b c "Desert Island Discs with David Suchet". Desert Island Discs. BBC. Radio 4. 13 February 2009.
  15. ^ Suchet @
  16. ^ British Library Archival Sound Recordings. Retrieved on 2009-02-13.
  17. ^ "Obituary of Jack Suchet, Father of David Suchet". BMJ (24 November 2001)
  18. ^ BBC website - Who Do You Think You Are? - David Suchet
  19. ^

External links


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