ITV's long-running series of Poirot adaptations, Agatha Christie's Poirot, has ended. The final episodes aired in the UK in November. Of course, fans in several countries around the world are still waiting eagerly for the final series, (for instance, the final four episodes air on consecutive nights in Norway this Easter, and in the U.S. the final series will be broadcast on PBS and Acorn TV this summer), but it's only a question of time before a remarkable journey is over.
So, what now for our favourite mustachioed Belgian detective? David Suchet has hinted at remaking a few of the stories for the cinema if there's the money and the interest, but I am fairly certain that's wishful thinking. However, the Christie Estate seems as eager as ever to continue the success story of Christie and Poirot. I'm one of those people who will never be able to envisage Poirot without David Suchet, but I will try to keep an open mind for future projects. Since my last post back in November, exciting news have emerged:
No more Marple or Poirot adaptations from ITV
This is hardly a surprise. Suchet has reached his goal. It would have been nice, of course, to see further Marple adaptations with Julia McKenzie, but they had almost run out of non-Marple stories to adapt (and seemed reluctant to explore the short stories). Besides, the Estate seems to have been busy behind the scenes with the deal below:
BBC becomes the new 'home' of Agatha Christie
Coinciding with the 125th anniversary year of Agatha Christie in 2015 (and, without a doubt, the end of Poirot on ITV), the BBC has struck a deal with the Agatha Christie estate for exclusive rights to make Christie adaptations. Two dramas have already been commissioned: Partners in Crime, which will feature Christie's sleuths Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, and And Then There Were None, a remake of the classic story.
Of course, none of these are Poirot adaptations. However, if we are to believe the Daily Mirror, exciting discussions about further options are ongoing, and 'Both Marple and Poirot could be revisited further down the line'. Also, the official Agatha Christie Ltd press release mentions that RLJ Entertainment and Acorn Productions (the new rights owners) are working towards developing the Christie stories 'for a new generation'.
Both these statements seem to suggest that a modern-day Poirot or a Belgium-set Poirot prequel (as suggested by Suchet in an interview) is at least being considered. Now, personally, I don't see any of those options working. First, Suchet is synonymous with the character; both his performance and not least his accent would be impossible to copy. Second, Poirot as Christie wrote him is very much a character grounded in the inter-war years. I can't see him working in a modern-day context. Third, I fear a period prequel following his years in the Belgian police force would be distracting and potentially damaging to the original character.
Having said that, I was convinced a modern-day Sherlock and an Inspector Morse prequel would never work - and then the brilliant Sherlock and Endeavour series proved me wrong. So let's wait and see what happens. We should never say never. Even if Suchet will never be surpassed - of that I am remain convinced.
A remake of Murder on the Orient Express
Speaking of replacing Suchet - a remake of Murder on the Orient Express has been announced! I must admit my expectations are incredibly low. I assume Suchet won't be involved. He has been very positive about his own MOTOE adaptation (2010), so there's no reason why he would want to do a remake so soon after that episode. Consequently, they would have to find a different actor to play the character, so soon after the end of Suchet's reign. I'm convinced most Christie fans will find it difficult to adjust to a new screen Poirot already. Also, I'm not convinced the producers, including Ridley Scott (best known for his Blade Runner and Gladiator films) and Simon Kinberg (from the Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes films) are the right team for the job. But again, I reserve judgement for the end product.
Sophie Hannah's Poirot novel to be released in September
Admittedly, Sophie Hannah's Poirot novel was announced ages ago (read my blog post on that here). But news have recently emerged of a massive marketing campaign, so I thought I'd mention it again. I've promised to reserve judgement on this, too, and I wish Hannah the best of luck, but I'm not convinced there's a need for a new Poirot novel.
Taken collectively, these pieces of news tell an interesting tale of the future of Christie and Poirot. Christie's grandson Mathew Pritchard and the new rights holders all seem prepared to introduce the character to 'a new generation'. We already know this will entail a new film adaptation and a new novel, and chances are he will be revisited on television some time in the future, too. What will come of these efforts is hard to know at this point in time, but I think we can say that Poirot is by no means dead and buried.
P.S. Suchet never received the BAFTA or the National Television Award I was hoping for, but he WAS awarded the Royal Television Society's Lifetime Achievement Award for his achievement as Hercule Poirot. Well deserved!
My apologies for the long blog silence. I have had a busy couple of months. But fear not, I aim to do several exciting blog posts in the months to come!