Last night we said goodbye to an old friend on television, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Over the past 25 years David Suchet has played the fussy little Belgian, the genius with the little grey cells and the wax moustache, and ‘Curtain’, the 70th film in the series, was his final farewell.
At first the episode took a while to get going. Although still mentally alert, our hero was confined to a wheelchair and suffering from a heart condition which left him gasping for breath at moments – we knew the end was near, just as mysterious deaths surrounded him and his faithful friend Hastings, and shadows visited from his past.
The second half of the episode though was considerably stronger, with loose ends (and a few surprises) being tied up in the form of a letter from Poirot delivered some months after his death to Hastings. Here we got the measure of the man, and he got the farewell he deserved.
And, of course, we can always see the episodes right from the start again, either in the sumptuous new 35-disc DVD set, or in the form of repeats on the smaller satellite channels.
Suchet’s portrayal of Christie’s favourite character (she also created Miss Marple, of course) has been spot on. The mincing walk, the look of disdain, the vanity, the sniff, the eyes of sadness at what might have been. It might have even overtaken the uneven performance of Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes which was previously the longest commitment between actor and role on television.
Farewell old friend, and we will miss you.