In a game of charades, you would probably only need to twirl your imaginary moustache, a look of superior intellect on your face, before your fellow players’ little grey cells would begin to hum.
Throw in a couple of very small, considered steps around the room, hands behind your back, and they would all be yelling out one word: Poirot.
The moustachioed, bow-tied Belgian detective holds a special and iconic place in the British imagination – and a near permanent spot on the afternoon telly schedule. But although the series first aired way back at the end of the 1980s, I’d argue that it makes for the perfect viewing for our times – and the ideal lockdown binge-watch.
What is Agatha Christie’s Poirot about?
Based on Agatha Christie’s books, the long-running show is set in the 1920s and ’30s, and follows Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (played by David Suchet), whose charming demeanour, foreign accent, and fastidious habits (he’s often seen placing a handkerchief down before sitting on a park bench) often lull witnesses and potential suspects into a false sense of security.
He’s flanked by his throughly British sidekick Captain Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser), who, like the viewer, is always one step behind Poirot when it comes to solving their latest case (usually an unsolved murder).
Most episodes feature a brand new cast of guest characters linked to the latest case that Poirot is investigating, but asides from Poirot and Hastings, there are a few other regular characters.
Among them are: Poirot’s long-suffering secretary, Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran), and the beleaguered Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson), who throughout the show gradually warms towards the detective.
How long is Agatha Christie’s Poirot?
The series ran from 1989 to 2013, with 13 series and 70 episodes in total – an intellectual feast for lockdown binge-watchers to get their teeth into!
How can I watch Agatha Christie’s Poirot?
All 13 series of the ITV crime drama are available to watch on BritBox here. Don’t have a subscription? UK viewers can also often find the show on ITV3’s afternoon scheduling.
Why should I watch Agatha Christie’s Poirot?
Right now, it can feel like the nation – and the world – has an ever-growing list of problems to solve. Turning on the news, while necessary, can feel disheartening.
But in Agatha Christie’s Poirot, here is a man who always manages to solve the problem presented to him – often knotted, life-and-death problems, too. No matter the obstacles, this genius (and impeccably dressed) detective always gets his man – or woman – and solves the crime.
Not only is David Suchet absolutely perfect in the role, but the ever-revolving cast is invariably great, too. A slate of famous actors got their big break on the show back in the day, including Peter Capaldi, Damian Lewis, Emily Blunt, and Michael Fassbender.
Overlook the grainer, blurrier quality of the early series, and the show is also beautiful to look at, with Art Deco backdrops, vintage cars, and flapper dresses at every turn.
But, of course, the best part of every episode is the climatic reveal. The now-iconic showdowns always sees Poirot gather all the suspects in a glitzy drawing room, his manner still genial at first – before slowly his net tightens around the by-now squirming guilty party.
“Voila,” Poirot will say, revealing the murderer’s identity with a near-menacing flourish. And the viewer, like the gawping onlookers, is left wondering exactly how he does it…
Check out what else is on with our TV Guide