Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Marple: Why Didn't They Ask Evans? Review (S4.E4)

This episode was first broadcast in the UK on Wednesday 15th June 2011, and was adapted by Patrick Barlow, produced by Karen Thrussell and directed by Nicholas Renton. The novel, which doesn't feature the character of Miss Marple, was previously adapted in 1980 starring Francesca Annis as Frankie Derwent. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT DON'T READ ANY FURTHER!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Adieu Poirot: 25 Years of Crime Solving

David Suchet has played Hercule Poirot on our TV screens for 25 years and appearing in 70 films. The first episode, The Adventure of the Clapham Cook, was first broadcast in the UK on January 8th 1989, and the last film, Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, aired on November 13th 2013, earlier this month. In  this 'overview', I will examine the factors that made this show so popular and gave it a 25 year lifespan.

The Cast 

The reason for the success of the series is the quality of David Suchet's acting. He is Hercule Poirot; he perfectly portrays his mannerisms and quirks and has brought him to life in a way no other actor would have dreamed of. I strongly believe that if someone else had played the role, it would not have lasted beyond five years, let alone 25.  He plays Poirot exactly as Agatha Christie wrote him, and has a detailed dossier on the character. This attention to detail is a key reason for the success of the series and David Suchet's characterization is superb and will be remembered forever. I cannot imagine anyone else playing the role, and I doubt I will ever see another interpretation in my lifetime.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Marple: They Do It With Mirrors Review (S4.E3)


Julia McKenzie's third outing as Miss Marple was adapted by Paul Rutman and directed by Andy Wilson, who has also directed many Poirot films. It was first broadcast on 1st January 2010. This story was previously adaped into a film starring Helen Hayes under the title "Murder with Mirrors" and for the BBC series starring Joan Hickson.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case Review (S13.E5)


So, after 25 years of playing 'The greatest detective that ever lived', David Suchet dons the moustache for the last time in Curtain. This final film was adapted by Kevin Elyot and directed by Hettie Macdonald. 


Captain Hastings travels back to Styles Court, the scene of his first crime with  Hercule Poirot because his oldest friend fears another murder will be committed, but doesn't know who'll die. However, since they last met, Poirot has succumbed to arthritis forcing him to use a wheelchair and has a life threatening heart condition. Hastings is also in pain, his wife Bella has recently died and he is constantly having arguments with his only daughter Judith. Poirot recruits Hastings to be his eyes and his ears and help him prevent a deadly murder, but will he be too late?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Polish Trailer for Marple Series 6

Last month, Polish broadcaster Ale Kino + released a trailer for series 6 of Agatha Christie's Marple, claiming it was the last series of Miss Marple stories. This is yet to be confirmed however. As we've already seen A Caribbean Mystery and Greenshaw's Foll in the UK, I won't bore you with screenshots for those (if you haven't seen it, there are lots of images on google). I will show you screenshots for Endless Night.

I want to keep this spoiler free as I haven't read the book, but I welcome any comments. 

David Suchet on Curtain

David Suchet first played Hercule Poirot in 1989's The Adventure of the Clapham Cook (©ITV)

At what point in Poirot's life do we meet him in Curtain? 

You meet him as Agatha Christie wrote him; a little sunken old man in a wheelchair, still with his  dyed black hair and moustache, but clearly arthritic.

Did you enjoy filming with Hugh Fraser (Captain Hastings) again? 

It was lovely to be reunited with Hugh and have him back on set.

Do you remember your last day filming on the set of Curtain

Yes I do! In a sense it was odd because we filmed this adaption slightly out of sequence and so my final scenes weren't actually what you might imagine them to be. The nature of filming is quite extraordinary! 

If Agatha Christie was alive today, would there be anything you would like to say or ask her? 

Yes, 'Was I okay? Would you have approved?' Only because I know she was famously anti everybody that played her characters.

Since you accepted the role in 1987, how has Poirot changed across the years? 

Well, I hope very little, as I didn't want him to change too much. He's got older as I have over the years and I fleshed out certain areas of his psychology and his life. 

How would you like Poirot to be remembered? 

I would love Poirot to be remembered fondly and it goes without saying he is the greatest detective in the world.

Read the full interview (©ITV) here

Curtain airs at 8pm tonight on ITV

25 Years, 70 Films
Agatha Christie's Poirot
1989 - 2013

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Poirot: Curtain Preview

So, the final ever episode of Poirot is nearly upon us, and I'm not ready for it to end yet! 25 years ago, David Suchet put on the little mustache for the first time in The Adventure of The Clapham Cook, first broadcast in 1989 on ITV1. Now, Suchet will appear for the last time in what promises to be a moving final tale. It features the recurring character of Captain Arthur Hastings, brilliantly portrayed by Hugh Fraser.

Although The Clapham Cook was the first to air, it wasn't the first in chronological order (see the fantastic blog The Chronology of Poirot for more details). The Mysterious Affair at Styles, broadcast in 1990 marking the centenary of Agatha Christie's birth, showed us a flashback to Poirot's first case, where he brings a murderer to book with the help of his friend Hastings and Chief Inspector Japp.

In Curtain, an ill and immobilized Poirot returns to Styles Court, the scene of their first murder, as the sharp witted detective is in fear of another murder being committed.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Poirot Series 13: An Overview

UPDATE: Curtain review and preview and external reviews 
The thirteenth and final series is now coming to a close, we have only one more episode to go, EVER! So I thought I would consolidate all of the reviews, previews and news from all the five films here in this post. Enjoy.

Elephants Can Remember 

Broadcast - 9th June 2013
Recurring Characters - Ariadne Oliver
Guest Cast - Greta Scacchi, Iain Glen
Review - S13.1
Preview - N/A
Interviews - ITV Press Pack (David Suchet)
Trailer - ITV Trailer
Video - Clip

Poirot: 25 Years of Guest Cast

Famous: Zoe Wanamaker, David Suchet and Greta Scacchi

With the final curtain imminent, we will look back at the amazing Guest Cast that have been found to play Agatha Christie's amazing characters throughout all 25 years of the show. From big names to screen debuts, here's the cast of Agatha Christie's Poirot.

This series is famous for gathering together the cream of the crop of British acting talent. Several acting veterans who have graced the screen and stage have joined David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Pauline Moran, Philip Jackson and Zoe Wanamaker and made the series an instant success.


Friday, 8 November 2013

Poirot: The Labours of Hercules Review (S13.E4)


The penultimate episode of Poirot, which was broadcast on 6th November 2013, was adapted by Guy Andrews, directed by Andy Wilson and produced by David Boulter. Here is what I thought of the episode:


When Poirot fails to capture the murderer and art thief Marascaud, a young girl is killed. A depressed Poirot is encouraged back to hiss life of detection by the plea of a young and heart broken chauffeur, Ted Williams (Tom Austen), who wants the great sleuth to find his missing love Nita. His quest takes him to The Hotel Olympos in Switzerland, which happens to be the hideout of the deadly Marascaud. Poirot must work out which one of the guests is the killer and unmask them before they kill again.

Guy Andrews had a herculean task ahead of him when adapting this collection of 12 intertwined short stories, and he does a magnificent job. "The Erymanthian Boar" is the central story here, but the plots of "The Augean Stables," "The Stymphalean Birds," "The Girdle of Hippolyta" and "The Capture of Cerberus" are added as subplots. The adaption works really well, the plot appears to have little faults and is a gives us a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes. The short story The Lemesurier Inheritance is added, which is the only other story not to be filmed. This now means that we can safely say David Suchet has filmed every story Agatha Christie wrote about Poirot. What an achievement

Read More After The Jump...

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Marple: Murder Is Easy Review (S4.E2)


Julia McKenzie's second episode as Miss Jane Marple was adapted by Stephen Churchett, directed by Hattie Macdonald and produced by Karen Thrussell. It was first broadcast in the UK on September 13th 2009.


 Miss Marple meets Lavinia Pinkerton (Sylvia Syms) on the London Train where  she learns she is bound for Scotland Yard to report a murder. Pinkerton, who knows that murder is easy, as long as no one thinks it's murder, is killed on the escalator before reporting the killer. Miss Marple travels to the village of Wychwood, where with the help of Luke Fitzwilliam (Benedict Cumberbatch), she hunts a dangerous serial killer.

Miss Marple is easily inserted into the story by Churchett, it's so much like a Miss Marple mystery anyway. However, a number of changes are made. First, Pinkerton is killed by being pushed down the escalator rather than run over. Giles Ellsworthy and Gordon Whitfield don't appear, and the motive for the murders is changed. Instead of killing to try and hang Whitfield, (SPOILERS), Honoria kills everyone so that she can hide the fact she was raped by her mentally disabled brother and that she killed him to prevent anymore assaults. This is a brave move for the series to tackle rape, even more so as it wasn't in the original novel, but it does add as dark sense to the plot, especially as it is fitting with the body count of the episode.

Direction, locations, soundtrack 

Hattie Macdonald, who has directed Poirot: Curtain, coming out shortly, directs this episode well. She makes great use of the wonderful locations used, and makes the episode very dark. This is appropriate as so many people die and with a dark motive like rape, it certainly doesn't feel out of place. The soundtrack is very good for this episode, but has never been released. The tube station scenes were filmed at Aldwych Station on the London Underground, a closed station.

Cast and characters

 Julia McKenzie shines as Miss Marple, apparently she only had a few weeks to prepare for the role before going on camera, but you wouldn't know! Although she is still developing the character, she plays her very well, different from Joan Hickson and Geraldine McEwan, but that's not a bad thing. I like the fact that each actress who has played her brings a new side to the character. Margaret Rutherford was comic (not good in my opinion), Joan Hickson was very world weary, nothing would ever surprise her and Geraldine McEwan plays her more understanding with a hint of madness.

Of the guest actors, Benedict Cumberbatch (pre-Sherlock fame) plays the loyal sidekick extremely well, Shirley Henderson is convincing as the evil Honoria and Russel Tovey plays the slow but friendly Constable Reed well.

(all pictures ©ITV)

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Poirot: The Labours of Hercules Preview

The penultimate Poirot episode, part of the thirteenth and final series, will be broadcast on Wednesday 6th November 2013 at 8pm on ITV.  This episode is based on a collection of twelve short stories entitled The Labours of Hercules. It was adapted by Guy Andrews (The Mystery of the Blue Train, Appointment With Death), directed by Andy Wilson (Poirot: Death on the Nile, Marple: They Do It With Mirrors) and produced by David Boulter (Poirot Series 13). 

It features the recurring character of Countess Vera Rossakoff, the Russian jewel thief and the only woman Poirot has ever loved. In this adaption, she is played by Orla Brady. She last appeared in The Double Clue, played by Kika Markham. 

Here is the description from ITV.com: 

"In the penultimate film Poirot falls into a deep depression, after his egotism plays a part in the murder of a society girl. It is the desperate plea of a lonely chauffeur (Tom Austen) to find his missing soul mate, which eventually motivates Poirot to get back to work. His quest takes him to the Swiss Alps where he stumbles on clues, which may lead to a very personal showdown."

Friday, 1 November 2013

On Location With Agatha Christie #1: Florin Court

Poirot Whitehaven Mansion location

Name: Florin Court 
Address: Florin Court, Charterhouse Square, London 
Used As: Whitehaven Mansions (Exterior)
Appeared In: Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989 - 2013)

Florin Court has become famous due to its use as Hercule Poirot's London home in the popular series Agatha Christie's Poirot. It is now associated with Poirot and Christie fans everywhere come to this location every year, although Agatha Christie never visited herself. Florin Court is only used as the exterior to Whitehaven Mansions, Poirot's flat set is located in Pinewood Studios.

Poirot Whitehaven Mansion location

Florin Court has been used as Poirot's home since the first series, but was only filmed for a short period. Jeff Tessler, Production Designer on Poirot and Marple, explains: “We try to get a large number of different shots when we do have access to the site. We will shoot Poirot arriving and leaving a number of times, and in a variety of vehicles. We also have a large number of exterior shots of Florin Court on file. With all of these available it might not be necessary to film there for two or three years.” Read the full interview here.

Poirot Whitehaven Mansion location
This night time image was actually edited to look like it's night. ©AChristieWeb

In June 2013, Florin Court suffered a severe fire at night, leaving the building damaged. The news saddened many Poirot mans, so much so that David Suchet expressed a concern over Twitter. 

I visited Florin Court back in February 2013, and although the weather wasn't perfect for photography, I still took lots of photos, that you can see above. Florin Court has to be one of my favourite filming locations, it's a fantastic example of 30's decor, no wonder the design team on Poirot loved it so much. 

Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye Review (S4.E1)

A Pocket Full Of Rye was Julia McKenzie's (Cranford, Gangsta Granny) debut performance as Miss Jane Marple, the episode aired on 6th September 2009. It was adapted by Kevin Elyot (Poirot: Death on the Nile, Curtain), directed by Charles Palmer (Marple: A Caribbean Mystery) and produced by Karen Thrussel. It formed part of the 1st series of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, and the forth of Marple.


When Rex Fortescue (Kenneth Cranham - Sparkling Cyanide) dies while sitting at his desk in the City, it's determined that he was in fact poisoned. He was married to a much younger wife, Adele (Anna Madeley - Poirot: Curtain) , who now stands to inherit. His son Percival, a partner in the family firm, was a disappointment to him and a daughter, Elaine, hasn't amounted to much. Another son, Lance (Rupert Graves - Sherlock, Scott and Bailey), had a falling out with his father many years before and relocated to East Africa. He suddenly appears soon after his father's death claiming that they had reconciled and been invited by him to return to England with an offer to rejoin the firm. Miss Marple takes a particular interest in the case when her former maid Gladys, now working in the Fortescue household, is also murdered. She soon learns that the elder Fortescue had received veiled threats for some time and that they might have something to do with a long ago business deal that made his initial fortune. 

Kevin Elyot's script is very faithful to the original novel (he's one of my favourite Christie adapters - he did a great job with Death on the Nile), and only makes a few minor changes. Miss Henderson is deleted, but she doesn't provide many clues, so her role is added to that of Mrs Mackenzie. Also, Miss Marple is more upset at Gladys' death than in the book, as they have known each other for a number of years.

However, I was shocked when I bought the DVD that it had a rating of 15! This is because of 'infrequent strong sex'! Fortunately, it is very infrequent, but this is, let me remind you, Agatha Christie and there is no reason to 'spice it up' with any sex scenes! 

A very entertaining script as well , I like the touches with the Inspector and the chocolates.

Direction, locations, soundtrack 

Charles Palmer's direction isn't dark like some of the later episodes of Poirot, but does have some dark elements, such as the discovery of Adele's body and Gladys' murder. There are also some interesting camera angles employed which adds is a welcome addition to the adaption. Some of the locations used are Englefield House (Yew Tree Lodge), Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square (Consolidated Investments) and West Wycombe Park (Pinewood Sanatorium). Dominik Scherrer's soundtrack is very good is this episode, his track Consolidated Investments can be found on YouTube.

Cast and Characters 

Julia McKenzie, although this is her first episode, steps into the role as if she has always played it! The opening scene is good where she says goodbye to Gladys, and when she is listening to the wireless and reading the newspaper whilst her hapless made breaks the ornaments. She is very good when she leaves Yew Tree Lodge and says farewell to Pat, knowing that her husband is a triple murderer. When she reads Gladys' letter, and looks at the photograph, Julia McKenzie gives a moving performance. It's a very wise choice as an opening episode for Julia's Miss Marple as she can connect with the characters and feel upset at the death of Gladys.

There are a lot of good guest actors in this one, notably Matthew Macfadyen as Inspector Neele, he's very good as the polite and clever policeman, and remind me somewhat of his role in BBC's Ripper Street.
Rupert Graves plays Lance very well, he manages to be convincingly sly and suave. Helen Baxendale is excellent as the cold and crafty Mary Dove and the late Wendy Richard gives a good, final performance as Mrs Crump.

A great debut performance for Julia McKenzie!

(all pictures ©ITV)