Christopher Stevens // Daily Mail
Morse. Holmes. Miss Marple. Televisionâ€™s most revered characters are the detectives, super-perceptive beings whose moral strength defendsÂ us against evil and chaos. Detectives are the gods ofÂ theÂ TV age.
And ofÂ all the gods, David Suchet, anÂ obsessive perfectionist, plays the supreme intelligence: Hercule Poirot.
This week sees the little Belgian detectiveâ€™s final case, Curtain. Suchet, 67, has peeled off the waxed moustache and hung upÂ the cane. WeÂ will miss himÂ â€” but for the highly strung star, who inhabits his roles soÂ intensely that friends inÂ the past have feared for his sanity, the death ofÂ Poirot could beÂ shattering.
Though heÂ has been played byÂ many fine actorsÂ â€” Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov and Alfred Molina among themÂ â€” Poirot was once aÂ lesser deity, aÂ minor idol whose eccentricities were good for aÂ giggle.
His absurd accent, his popinjay manner, his fastidious attire made him aÂ comic caricature.
InÂ the colourÂ TV era, viewers wanted detectives who drank real ale and swigged whisky; Poirot sipped from aÂ thimble-glass ofÂ sweetly foul red liqueur called crĂ¨me deÂ cassis.
HeÂ first appeared inÂ 1920, and over the next half-century, inÂ aÂ series ofÂ more than 30Â novels and dozens ofÂ short stories, heÂ made his creator, Agatha Christie, the most successful writer alive.