Agatha Christie's Poirot
|Agatha Christie's Poirot|
|Composer(s)||Christopher Gunning (Series 1-10), Stephen McKeon (Series 10-11), Christian Henson (Series 12)|
|Country of origin||UK|
|No. of episodes||65 in the UK
(as of 26 December 2011) (List of episodes)
|Running time||36 x ~50 minutes
29 x ~100 minutes
|Production company(s)||LWT (1989-2002)
LWT Productions (1989-1996)
Granada Productions (2002-2008)
Agatha Christie Ltd. (1989-present)
ITV Productions (2008-2009)
ITV Studios (2009-present)
WGBH Boston (2003-present)
Carnival Films (1993-1994)
Picture Parentship Productions (1994-1996)
|Original channel||ITV, STV, UTV|
|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 It was originally made by LWT and is now made by ITV Studios.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. At the end of its current 13th series, the series will end, having adapted every major literary work by Christie that featured the title character.
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. 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. 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 ploughed 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."
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.
In 2007, Suchet spoke of his desire to film all the remaining stories in the canon and hoped to achieve this by the time of his 65th birthday (May 2011). Despite speculation of cancellation early in 2011, it was announced on 14 November 2011 that the remaining books would indeed be filmed in 2012. As a result, Suchet will have filmed all the Poirot novels and short stories.
- David Suchet – Hercule Poirot (1989–2013)
- Hugh Fraser – Captain Arthur Hastings (1989–2002 and 2013)
- Philip Jackson – Chief Inspector James Japp (1989–2001 and 2013)
- Pauline Moran – Miss Felicity Lemon (1989–2001 and 2013)
- Zoë Wanamaker – Ariadne Oliver (2005–2013)
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. 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.
Anthony Horowitz is another prolific writer for the series, adapting three novels and nine short stories, while comedian and novelist Mark Gatiss has written two episodes and also guest-starred in the series, as has Peter Flannery.
Beginning with the episodes which aired in 2000 there was a noticeable downplaying of the humour of the earlier series. Also, the signature theme music and full title sequence were dropped from the opening credits, and when the theme music was used it was written and scored in a more sombre fashion. This is partly because the novels adapted are themselves darker and more psychologically driven.
Episodes released in 2003 and thereafter lack Fraser, Jackson, and Moran, who had appeared in most episodes before then, and also introduces Wanamaker. The introduction of Wanamaker's character and the absence of the other characters (Hastings, Japp, Lemon and Oliver) is consistent with the books on which the scripts were based. However on 17 June 2012 Suchet confirmed via Twitter that Hastings would be returning for two episodes of the final series (The Big Four and Curtain). It was not known whether or not Jackson and Moran would return, however their characters do appear in one of the stories to be filmed (The Labours of Hercules), and in July 2012 Suchet confirmed via Twitter that their characters would return. It was also confirmed that Wanamaker would return.
Following the launch of the ITV series Agatha Christie's Marple in 2004, the Poirot series was retitled Agatha Christie's Poirot. The previous titles and theme music were dropped. The visual style of these later episodes was noticeably different from earlier episodes: particularly, austere art deco settings and decor, widely used earlier in the series, were largely dropped in favour of more lavish settings (epitomised by the re-imagining of Poirot's home as a larger, more lavish apartment).
Post-2004 episodes display the increasing use of religious themes and plot elements not found in Christie's novels and harkening instead to the work of authors such as Evelyn Waugh, and Graham Greene. Episodes following the rechristening saw some characterisations by their all-star casts, such as Zoë Wanamaker's portrayal of Ariadne Oliver, tend towards tongue-in-cheek; comedy actors, including Mark Gatiss, Daisy Donovan, and Steve Pemberton, have featured in the casts of these later episodes. These episodes also saw Poirot gain a valet, George.
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), Russell Tovey (Evil Under the Sun, 2001), and Michael Fassbender (After the Funeral, 2006).
Jessica Chastain, who played the role of Mary Debenham in the 2010 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, later went on to earn two Academy Award nominations, making her the first actor or actress on the show to hold such a distinction. (Barbara Hershey, who played Caroline Hubbard/Linda Arden in the same film, has had one Academy Award nomination.)
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.
Other veteran actors who have appeared in the later series include: Geraldine James (After the Funeral, 2006); Elliott Gould, Lindsay Duncan and Roger Lloyd Pack, (The Mystery of the Blue Train, 2006); Siân Phillips (Mrs McGinty's Dead, 2008), and Tim Curry and Elizabeth McGovern (Appointment with Death, 2008).
Multiple roles 
Nine actors have played more than one character in the series: Nicholas Farrell appeared as Donald Fraser in The ABC Murders (1992) and then as Major Knighton in The Mystery of the Blue Train (2005), 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).
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. Beth Goddard appeared as Violet Wilson (Violet Marsh in the story) in The Case of the Missing Will (1993) and subsequently in 2008 as Sister Agnieszka in Appointment with Death (a character created for the episode, who does not appear in the novel). Pip Torrens first played Major Rich in 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. Richard Lintern played John Lake in Dead Man's Mirror (1993) and later appeared as Guy Carpenter in Mrs McGinty's Dead (2008). Beatie Edney appeared in 1990 as Mary Cavendish in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and 21 years later as Beryl Hemmings in The Clocks (2011).
Fenella Woolgar played the role of Lady Edgware's maid Ellis in Lord Edgware Dies and more recently played Elizabeth Whittaker in Hallowe'en Party. By a curious coincidence she also played Agatha Christie herself in "The Unicorn and the Wasp", an episode of Doctor Who.
Poirot and Marple 
Many actors appeared in both Poirot and Agatha Christie's Marple. James Fox appeared as Colonel Race in Death on the Nile and then as Colonel Bantry in The Body in the Library. Rachel Stirling appeared as Caroline Crale in Five Little Pigs and then as Griselda Clement in The Murder at the Vicarage. Hugh Bonneville appeared as Inspector Hewitt in The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side and then as Edward Henry Masterman in Murder on the Orient Express.
Marc Warren appeared as Meredith Blake in Five Little Pigs and then as Captain Ainsworth in The Murder at the Vicarage. Mary Stockley appeared as Josie Turner in The Body in the Library and then as Eve Carpenter in Mrs McGinty's Dead. Emma Griffiths Malin appeared as Jacqueline de Bellefort in Death on the Nile and then as Gina Hudd in They Do It with Mirrors.
JJ Field appeared as Simon Doyle in Death on the Nile and then as Paul Osbourne in The Pale Horse. Niamh Cusack appeared as Valerie Saintclair in The King of Clubs and then as Emma Crackenthorpe in 4.50 from Paddington. Sarah Smart appeared as Mildred Gulbrandsen in They Do It with Mirrors and then as Maude Williams in Mrs McGinty's Dead.
Clare Skinner appeared as Amy Murgatroyd in A Murder Is Announced and then as Miss Eileen Rich in Cat Among the Pigeons. One of the five stars, Zoë Wanamaker, appeared in Cards on the Table, Mrs McGinty's Dead, Third Girl, Hallowe'en Party, Dead Man's Folly and Elephants Can Remember as Ariadne Oliver, but before all that had appeared as Letitia Blacklock in A Murder Is Announced.
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!"
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.
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!
More recently, the series has been described by some critics as going "off piste", though not negatively, from its old format. It has been praised for its new writers, more lavish productions and a greater emphasis on the darker psychology of the novels. Significantly, it was noted for Five Little Pigs (adapted by Kevin Elyot) bringing out the homosexual subtext of the novel.
DVD and Blu-ray releases 
ITV Studios Home Entertainment has released all episodes on DVD in Region 2. On 30 March 2009, they released Agatha Christie's Poirot – Complete Collection, a 28-disc box set that features all 61 episodes up to and including the 2009 season.
Dutch FilmWorks were the first company to release the four episodes of series 12, in 2010.
In Region 1, both Acorn Media and A&E Home Video have released the series in a wide variety of editions. Acorn Media has the rights to the 36 standard-length episodes, the first nine double-length episodes, and the episodes broadcast since 2008. The other feature-length episodes are distributed by A&E, who acted as co-producers on several of them.
In 2012 Acorn Media released the first six series in the original UK broadcast order on DVD and Blu-ray. Previously, Acorn had released series 12 on Blu-ray; Murder On The Orient Express was released as a standalone title, and the remaining episodes of the series were released as The Movie Collection, Set 6. Acorn Media haven't yet confirmed if they'll release the remaining series.
In Region 4, Acorn Media (distributed by Reel DVD) has begun releasing the series on DVD in Australia in complete season sets. To date, they have released the first 8 series of the show.
The Complete Collection (Series 1–12) is also released by ITV Studios on Region 2 in the UK featuring all 65 episodes on 32 discs.
When the final series ends, a final Complete Collection (Series 1–13) will be released by ITV Studios on Region 2 in the UK. It will contain all the filmed Poirot stories.
Series 1–6 are available on Netflix Instant Streaming service.
Series 1-9 and 12 are available in Spain on Blu-ray with spanish and english audio tracks.
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