Sir David Suchet and Poirot - Guildford retrospective

For many millions, Sir David Suchet is – and always will be – the definitive Poirot.
David Suchet (pic by Ben Symons)David Suchet (pic by Ben Symons)
David Suchet (pic by Ben Symons)

It’s a role he looks back on with enormous pride in an evening of reminiscences entitled Poirot And More: A Retrospective coming to Guildford’s GLive on Thursday, February 15 (0343 310 0055).

“I have done this sort of chat show a number of times but just usually for charity and that sort of thing but then surprisingly in 2019 just before lockdown Liza McLean, an Australian producer, came up with the idea of a retrospective, looking back at my career and looking back at my life. She got various ideas together and I went out to Australia to Sydney and Melbourne and worked with her on finalising the script. She said that I had a huge following in Australia and that it would work. And I enjoyed it. We got such a good response. As soon as it was announced, people were buying the tickets to the extent that when I got to Sydney Opera House I thought ‘No one's going to want to turn up and hear me talking about Poirot’ but actually there was not a seat to be had and it was that enthusiasm that really excited me to do this show. It really did seem to me that the audience did want to spend time with me and to find out more about me and about Poirot.”

The point is that David’s Poirot is more popular than ever: “This is the thing that amazes me, the popularity of the series is still increasing. Since it has stopped being on regular TV and can be seen all over the place and streamed, people are watching it more and more, particularly during the lockdowns. It had huge viewing figures.

“I never anticipated when I started it that it would have such extraordinary success. In fact I thought that my interpretation would end up rather boring because I was not the same as Albert Finney or Peter Ustinov who were far more entertaining as Poirot. My Poirot was Agatha Christie's Poirot. I decided to do what she wrote – to do the little man that I met when I started to read the novels. And I started to realise that this little man had never been seen on the screen before – probably for fear that he would not be as entertaining for people. I thought about all the little facets of the man and some of them have been seen but not the whole man, the fact that he puts his morning suit on to go to the bank, the fact that he has two boiled eggs of the same size, the fact that he is very conceited as perhaps he has a right to be. He even says that Sherlock Holmes was very interesting ‘but he was fiction!’

“My son-in-law once said that he thought people loved Poirot because he is the greatest moral compass and that they feel safe with him but I think it goes deeper than that. I get envelopes full of fan mail saying that people find such comfort from the character. They know that everything is going to be resolved but they always feel that Poirot makes them feel better. And i even get fan mail from people that have woken up in hospital and wanted to watch Poirot. They say that when they watch Poirot that they feel that the world is a better place. He was someone who was very kind to the servant classes, the members of the household. He was very kind to the working classes. There was something about him.”

Since Sir David, we have of course had Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot: “I have never watched Ken’s. And for a very deliberate reason. Ken's interpretation of Poirot was not universally well met by the critics though the films have had terrific success, and I got calls and messages from my agent from journalists who were wanting to speak to me about what I thought and I know that they were hoping that I would not be that kind. So I decided never to watch one so that I could not comment.

"But what I would say is that I wish Ken and anybody that follows Ken the very best of luck in the world.”