...a blog by Richard Flowers

Monday, March 20, 2006

Day 1903: Poirot


My Daddy Richard is a fan of detective mystery stories. My favourite is INSPECTOR MORSE because he has a very cool car, but last night was a different detective, one called Monsieur Hercule Poirot. From France Belgium.

It had a good bit with an old fashioned blue sports car. Apart from that I do not remember much, so I have asked Daddy to say something instead of me.


It is hard to believe, comparing ITV's never less than excellent productions of "Agatha Christie's Poirot" to the kitch slapstick of their abominable "Agatha Christie's Marple" (no MISS), that you are even watching the same channel.

Last night's "Poirot" was, if anything, above the usual standard. Beautifully filmed and acted and a plot that kept entertaining as it twisted. Along the way, Mr P managed to uncover the truth behind no less than five horrible murders, plus um, penetrate the secret of his friend Superintendent Wheeler of the Yard. There is the suspicion that ITV may have added slightly more twilight world of the homosexuals than perhaps Dame Agatha originally included but – unlike "Marple's" "let's bung in some lesbians" attitude – it did work to add to the convolvulations of the plot.

The dénouement, by cunning use of a bluff with an envelope of Mr Shaitana's photographs (though, personally, I got the impression that the revealing photos show one suspect to be TV rather than gay) proves that although the killer is a daring whiz at bridge, it is Poirot who is the ace at poker.

On the acting honours, quite apart from the usual brilliantly observed performance of David Suchet, there was a brilliant turn from Zoë Wannamaker as, well pretty much Dame Agatha Christie, here under the Mary-Sue of Mrs Ariadne Oliver. Although clearly the comic turn, she played it with lightness and sincerity, a gentle mocking of the grande dames of detective fiction (and their occasional lapses of research). Particularly enjoyable were her little glows of pleasure whenever Monsieur Poirot praised her cleverness or success. Last year she was just about the only watchable performance in "Marple", as well as – of course – stealing the show from DOCTOR WHO as the Lady Cassandra O'Brien Dot Delta Seventeen. Goodness alone knows why she sticks with "My Family" – must have a mortgage to pay, I suppose.

Having said all that, Suchet and Wannamaker very nearly had the evening lifted out from under them by a gloriously delicious performance from Alexander Siddig (yes, one-time Doctor Bashir of DEEP SPACE NINE) in spite of him being dead after the first twenty minutes. Assured, decadent and fey and DEEPLY photogenic, plus ambivalently sexual.

Supporting cast managed to keep up with the stars, particularly Lesley Manville as frozen hearted Mrs Lorrimer and Tristan Gemmill as utter cad Major Despard.

Suchet remains on course to complete filming of every Poirot story, apparently doing them in batches of four, with now just twelve novels left to dramatise. I fully expect the last two to be "The Murder on the Orient Express" and "Curtain".

Still to screen of the most recently recorded quartet are apparently "The Big Four" and (one for Millennium) "Elephants Can Remember".

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