David Suchet: “There is such religious illiteracy in the world today and newspapers could be such a force for good”

The Poirot star talks about his new series Press, the state of newspapers today, the character he’s always wanted to play - and what he wants written on his tombstone

David Suchet (Getty, EH)

I imagine you watching TV in a big leather armchair holding a glass of red wine…

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Oh no, I usually sit on my sofa with my wife. In our life together, which is quite long now – we had our ruby wedding anniversary two years ago – my poor wife has been watching television on her own because I’ve been backstage at the theatre. So it’s a real treat now to sit together of an evening.

So you don’t argue over the remote control?

We haven’t got time for that! If there’s an argument over the remote we just switch it off.

What do you enjoy watching?

I don’t watch a huge amount of drama but I love documentaries like Blue Planet. I really don’t like those reality shows.

Do you ever watch old episodes of Poirot?

I won’t watch old episodes now! It’s an awful thing to admit but my guilty pleasure is flicking through the channels – it’s something I couldn’t do as a youngster when we only had one or two channels – but if I do come across a Poirot I pass on swiftly!

Is there a character you would love to play?

I’m too old now, but I’ve always wanted to play Napoleon. He was a very complex man with a great inferiority complex. I would have loved to play him with an accent that wasn’t Parisian.

Would you commit to another character like Poirot again?

I’ve just finished filming a series called Press, but I don’t want another five-year commitment to a role. At my age [he’s 71], I’ll tell you what I want written on my tombstone: “Still so much to do”.

In Press you play a media baron – did you draw from the experience of playing Robert Maxwell in a previous role?

I didn’t, because it would be too easy! I didn’t want to be another Robert, I wanted to bring someone else out in the script.

How do you consume news?

I carry a newspaper on my iPhone and I love listening to the news on the radio. Sometimes I put a news station on my television from a different country, like NBC or Russian news. We take news for granted but there was a time when we didn’t get news, we didn’t know what was happening.

Are newspapers still relevant in today’s society?

They are vital. But we have to be very careful, especially about religion. We need far more tolerance rather than sensationalist headlines that can inflame and cause division. There is such religious illiteracy in the world today and newspapers could be such a force for good.

Is that why you’ve just made a new podcast series, Questions of Faith?

When I became a Christian I felt it incumbent on me to understand the other two Abrahamic faiths, Judaism and Islam. I am troubled looking at the world and seeing such division and friction. I wanted to see if there’s anything that can be done to bring people together.

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Catch episodes of Poirot daily on ITV Encore. David Suchet’s Questions of Faith is available on Audible now. Press will be shown on BBC1 later this year