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British actor David Suchet

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Poirot final series: David Suchet reflects on the end of an era and the sleuth's final murder case

Sara Wallis // Mirror

Moustachioed detective Hercule Poirot is one of TV’s greatest ever detectives, but he won’t be tweaking his bow tie for much longer.

As the 13th and final series gets going, it paves the way for the super sleuth’s last ever murder case in a few weeks’ time.

This means it will be the end of an era for David Suchet, who first took the role that defined his career 25 years ago in 1988. But David, 67, is not surprised at the enduring popularity of Agatha Christie’s Poirot which, astonishingly, airs in more than 200 countries.

“He is popular because he has good manners,” says David. "He’s very respectful and he’s very charming. But my son-in-law gave me the best answer I’ve ever had for this question, which is that Poirot is enduring because he has a great moral compass and people would like to be like him.

“Whenever you watch Poirot summing up a case, you think the world is a better place.”

This episode, The Big Four, finds the Belgian detective thrown into a web of global espionage set against the backdrop of the impending Second World War.

The murders and disappearances stack up after a deadly game of chess, which sees a Russian Grandmaster (Michael Culkin) bumped off, with many suspects.

Fortunately, Poirot has help with the investigation from his old friend Japp (Philip Jackson), dogged journalist Tysoe (Tom Brooke), and struggling actress Flossie Monro (Sarah Parish), in an attempt to find the killer.

“Poirot is a guest at a very grand chess match in London,” David explains. "Dr Ivan Savaranoff, a reclusive Russian, has agreed to challenge American billionaire Abe Ryland, who is also one of the leaders of the Peace Party. The event needs some special security so Japp is there on duty as the Assistant Commissioner of the Met, and he’s been promoted since we last saw him.

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David Suchet on becoming Hercule Poirot

Catrin Carrucan // Daily Express

When we meet David Suchet on set, we catch him before he heads to costume and make-up to transform into his most famous character, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

“The process of becoming Poirot starts from the moment I get in the car in the morning,” explains David. "On my way to filming, I do all my lines in the car and get back into the rhythm of his speech. I will get out of the car already in his mindset and, usually, go straight to make-up. Once that moustache is on, that’s it. I’m Poirot.

“It’s like Pavlov’s dog — the moustache triggers something. Ten I stay in character throughout filming. And I don’t do it as an actor’s indulgence. I would hate people to think that. I do it to hang on to this very complex world of Poirot. When I’m him, I think like him, I speak like him. You can’t just dive in and out of that between takes. I find it very hard. It may look easy — well, I hope it does — but Poirot is very tough to play. He’s not an easy glove to put on.

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David Suchet: “We’re leaving Poirot at the top!”

// What's on TV

David Suchet returns as Hercule Poirot in Elephants Can Remember, which screens on ITV on Sunday at 8pm and sees the Belgian sleuth investigating the murder of a psychiatrist and also looking into a crime that happened 13 years before. TV & Satellite Week took David in for questioning to find out more...

This is the first of five final Poirot films; are you going out on a high?

“Apart from my driver, I’m the only person left from the beginning and I feel like a custodian of the character, but also of the show’s style, so I want to make sure it’s up there where it was 25 years ago. I’m very proud to say that in this last series, we are right at the top.”

What have you enjoyed about this episode?

“It’s lovely to work with Zoe Wanamaker again who plays Poirot’s friend Ariadne Oliver and Elephants Can Remember was one of the last books that Agatha Christie wrote, so it’s more reflective and mature than others. It is a very clever story and it shows how wonderful Christie was in how the two cases eventually link and Poirot sorts them out.”

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David Suchet: In the footsteps of Saint Paul

David Suchet // BBC

Saint Paul wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament and travelled over 10,000 miles on foot to spread the word of Jesus. David Suchet has retraced his travels to get closer to one of the most controversial and charismatic figures in Christianity.

Saint Paul has always been a hero of mine and a character I had always wanted to play. Before actually following his remarkable journey myself, I knew he was an extraordinary human being.

He took the message of Jesus from its beginnings in Palestine and made it his mission to convert the Roman world of his day. In effect, he was Christianity’s first international ambassador. He challenged the world of the Pagan deities and the might of the Roman Empire itself by sowing the seeds of a radical, new faith that would one day become the dominant religion of the Mediterranean world.

David Suchet reveals how he found faith

Vicki Power // Daily Express

Poirot actor David Suchet presents a two-part documentary on one of Christianity’s most influential figures. David Suchet’s most famous alter ego, the Belgian sleuth Poirot, has been solving mysteries for decades using his powers of deduction and cold facts.

For David, however, faith plays a much bigger role in his life than the hard evidence required of a detective. David has been a devout Christian for 26 years after finding God as an adult.

It’s this faith that explains why the beloved 66-year-old actor is presenting a two-part documentary series about St Paul, which begins on BBC1 this week.

David Suchet: “There will be no more Poirots — the moustache is hung up”

Paul Jones // RadioTimes

When David Suchet removes Hercules Poirot’s waxed moustache and takes off the padded suit he refers to as the “armadillo” after filming the final four of Agatha Christie’s tales of the Belgian detective, it will be for the last time.

“There can’t be any more — the moustache is hung up, I’m afraid,” Suchet told a disappointed audience at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

“Having [already] shot the last story — which will be the last story to be shown on your screens (although I go on after and do the next four) — that’s it,” he said.

Suchet has played the detective in ITV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot on and off since 1989, but when he does finally end that incredible 25-year relationship, it will not be because he is bored with the role.

“I’ll never have enough of him because in my heart he’s such an enjoyable character to play,” said the actor. “I always find him challenging, he’s a very difficult glove to fit into every time I come back to him.”

Instead, it’s the completion of Agatha Christie’s entire series of Poirot stories that has convinced Suchet it’s time to stop.

Having previously done a reading of Black Coffee, Christie’s only Poirot story written specifically for the stage — and with the plot of the remaining novel, The LeMesurier Inheritance, to be woven into another episode from the series, The Labours of Hercules — Suchet said he was satisfied he had done Christie and Poirot justice.

He said he was “happy and proud” to be the only actor ever to achieve the feat: “That I have completed for the first tme in the history of television, and as an actor, the canon of Hercules Poirot for Agatha Christie and for the British — and the world — public, that will give me enourmous pleasure,” said Suchet.

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Greats capture the Shakespeare magic

... And what can one say about the wonderful David Suchet?

Forget his Poirot, for a moment, fine though it is, and remember Suchet is a magnificent stage actor. His Enobarbus speech which describes Cleopatra’s arrival in a golden barge, where her magnificence: "beggared all description..."is very fine and the slight chuckle of amusement which he brings to the piece (a formal Roman bemused by Egyptian extravagance) is sheer inspiration. Clearly he is on this earth to play Shylock and the intensity and muted rage of the much-wronged Venetian Jew is one of the moments which make this disc so wondrous...

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David Suchet on BBC Surrey

// BBC Surrey

Listen short interview with Suchet (00:16—00:22) here »

David Suchet on BBC Radio 2

// BBC Radio 2

Actor David Suchet chats to Chris Tarrant about the imminent end of his famous detective Poirot and his latest role in London's West End.

This record available only in the UK.

Black Coffee: Poirot in 360

// Agatha Christie's official website

Yesterday afternoon I was very privileged to witness an exclusive performance of Black Coffee. Produced and presented by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, in aid of Chichester Festival Theatre’s restoration fund, this staged reading featured a remarkable cast including none other than David Suchet as Hercule Poirot!

1000 expectant faces waited in anticipation as the row of chairs on stage filled with the great and the good. ACTC’s Artistic Director Joe Harmston (who had met his wife while working at Chichester!) introduced the afternoon’s entertainment: we were to see a rehearsed reading of the only play written by Agatha Christie to feature Hercule Poirot. Due to the short rehearsal period, this traditional play was to be performed in the manner of a live broadcast of a BBC radio play — as ACTC had performed three of Christie’s radio plays before — actors in evening dress would read from scripts in front of floor standing microphones with live sound effects produced by a Foley man opening and shutting doors and dropping suitcases ... Wonderful!

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