1 9 8 9 – 1 9 9 4 (UK)
2 0 0 0 – 2 0 1 4 (UK)
36 x 50 minute episodes
20 x 90 minute episodes
14 x 100 minute episodes
Agatha Christie’s fastidious Belgian sleuth with the “leetle grey cells” (who first appeared in the 1920 novel The Mysterious Affair At Styles) had been depicted in cinema by Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov (among others) before David Suchet brought the character to television in the definitive screen interpretation.
Suchet’s penguin-like Poirot lived in a small apartment in the luxurious Whitehaven Mansions in London (actually Florin Court in Charterhouse Square, near Holborn) and was followed by crime wherever he went.
Suchet (brother of ITN newscaster, John) perfectly captured the detective’s meticulous pernickety modus operandi, boiled-egg demeanour and withering put-downs of nice-but-dim car-loving assistant, Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser), a sporty, well-heeled ladies’ man who drove a green Lagonda.
Also on the scene was the inept Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson), a Scotland Yard officer who never failed to point the finger at the wrong suspect, and Felicity Lemon (Pauline Moran), Poirot’s indefatigable secretary.
Putting matters right, Poirot (with his obtuse continental accent and lop-sided oval head) calmly gathered together all the likely candidates and, after a meticulous explanation of the facts, quietly and efficiently nailed the guilty party.
Scrupulous in its Art Deco period 1930s settings with all the expensive and beautifully crafted period trappings of the era – including cars, aircraft, fashions and architecture – and handsomely produced, the series sold to over 40 countries around the world.
Two feature-length Poirot episodes were shown in 1996 and 1997 after the series ended.
These were followed after a three-year gap by a two-part dramatisation of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in January 2000. Two more episodes were produced in 2003 before the series was revived.
Captain Arthur Hastings
Miss Felicity Lemon