First look at John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot in new BBC Agatha Christie adaptation The ABC Murders

The screen legend has a little grey beard to match his little grey cells in BBC1’s The ABC Murders – but the classic black waxed moustache seems to have gone

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Here’s the first look at actor John Malkovich in the iconic role of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot for BBC1 mystery The ABC Murders.

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The actor appears to have gone for a full beard for the part of the legendary detective, unlike the luxuriant waxed moustache as sported by David Suchet in the classic ITV Poirot.

The scripts for The ABC Murders have been written by Sarah Phelps, who has also written the BBC’s last three Christie adaptations – And then There Were None starring Aidan Turner in 2015, The Witness for the Prosecution in 2016, and Ordeal by Innocence starring Bill Nighy in 2017.

Christie’s novels often notes the detective’s pride in his moustache, referred to in the novels variously as “gigantic”, “immense” and “amazing”. The description of the character never included a beard.

However, the new iteration seems certain to pique the interest of fans, especially given that Kenneth Brannagh has also recently played Poirot in a movie adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

Kenneth Branagh in Murder on the Orient Express, publicly picture, BD
Kenneth Branagh in Murder on the Orient Express

Also starring in the BBC1 drama, set to air this Christmas, is Rupert Grint, Tara Fitzgerald and Andrew Buchan.

Happy Valley star Shirley Henderson, Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean, Legend), Gregor Fisher (Love Actually) and Jack Farthing – the actor best known for playing Poldark’s ghastly George Warleggan – are also set to feature.

The story is set in the 1930s at a time “when the nation is dangerously divided and suspicion and hatred are on the rise,” according to the BBC. It sees Poirot forced to track down a serial killer, his only clue a copy of The ABC Railway Guide at each crime scene.

The drama will be produced by Mammoth Screen, the production company behind Victoria and Poldark.

Phelps has said of the drama: “Set in the seething, suspicious early 1930s, The ABC Murders is a brutal story of violence and lies, the long shadow of the past and the slaughter to come. At its centre, one of the most familiar, famous characters in crime fiction. We may all think we know Poirot but do we really know Hercule?”

Or, indeed, his facial hair…

Malkovich full length
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The ABC Murders is expected to air on BBC1 this Christmas