POIROT
........not an anachronism

Part 1:

Agatha Christie's Poirot is a British television drama that aired on ITV from 8 January 1989 to 13 November 2013. David Suchet starred as the eponymous detective, Agatha Christie's fictional Hercule Poirot. Initially produced by LWT, the series was later produced by ITV Studios. In the United States, PBS and A&E have aired it as Poirot. At the programme's conclusion, which finished with the episode Curtain, based on the final Poirot novel, every major literary work by Christie that featured the title character had been adapted to television.

In 1989 I was just starting into the last stage of my 50 year student and paid-employment life at what is now Polytechnic-West in Perth Western Australia. Poirot would not, and did not, come into my life until sometime in the first decade of my early retirement, my sea-change, the years 1999 to 2009. Hundreds of millions watched Poirot during that quarter century of TV episodes. My wife also found him a delight; for me, he was always out on the periphery of my TV agenda.

Part 1.1:

This afternoon, though, I enjoyed Being Poirot,1 a 50-minute television documentary in which the actor David Suchet attempted to unravel the mysterious appeal of Hercule Poirot, and how he went about portraying him. This doco was broadcast in the United Kingdom on the same evening as the final episode of Poirot, Curtain, 13/11/'13. Suchet visited Greenway, Agatha Christie's summer home, and recollected how he met her daughter Rosylyn and her husband Anthony Hicks for their approval before he began filming. He met Christie's grandson Matthew Pritchard who also recounted how his grandmother, Agatha Christie, found the character amongst Belgian refugees in Torquay.

Part 2:

Poirot's fictional home was Whitehaven Mansions built in 1936 in London. Suchet visited this fictional home, and the permanent Poirot exhibition at Torquay Museum where he presented the cane he used in the television series. I leave it to readers with the interest to get a detailed outline of all the events, the actions, the main incidents, in this 50 minute-doco.

Poirot's flat was set in 1936 and in Art Deco. Art Deco was an art movement which took its name from an exhibition of Decorative Art in Paris in 1925 centred on consumption and luxury. Deco style includes geometric and angular shapes, chrome, glass, shiny fabrics, mirrors and mirror tiles, stylised images of aeroplanes, cars, cruise liners and skyscrapers. Theatrical contrasts were popular - highly polished wood and black lacquer mixed with satin and furs.

Part 2.1:

In 2005 the program producers changed the feel of Poirot's flat completely. His first apartment was quite white and stark. Poirot was moved upstairs into a bigger apartment. Instead of the black and white Art Deco, the flat was made more continental. Partly because the character Poirot was Belgian, the producers wanted a warm look; they wanted the flat to look a lot more French and Belgian Art Deco, richer and more striking. They used a lot of English designed pottery from the period, people like Keith Murray, but also a lot of French Art Deco figurines and furniture. Those close to the show informed viewers that the look in the earlier series was technically not Art Deco.

"We tried not to be anachronistic," producer Brian Eastman said in a recent interview. "And the set was 30s modern, not actually Art Deco, because Agatha Christie had explained in a profile of Poirot that Art Deco was too flamboyant for him." But whether Art Deco or modernist, all that most viewers would have picked-up was the nostalgic opulence, perfect for escapist Sunday night telly. The flat was both luxurious and a reflection of Poirot's personality.2

Part 3:

All the episodes of Poirot were set, as I say, in 1936. Readers with the interest can look-up the major events of that year:3 the longest ice-hockey game and the worst heat wave in which 1000s died, both events in North America; the summer Olympics in Berlin and Jesse Owens, the beginning of the Arab revolt in Palestine, the last Tasmanian Tiger dies in Hobart, five million die in a Chinese famine, the pace of Jewish persecution in Germany increase as Hitler's policies advance, and the leader of the Baha'i community, Shoghi Effendi, sets the stage for a systematic teaching plan to be launched in 1937.4 -Ron Price with thanks to:1 Being Poirot, ABC TV, 2:30-3:30 pm, 1/2/'15, 2Finlo Rohrer, "Goodbye to the splendid 1930s world of Poirot", in BBC News Magazine, 15 November 2013;" 3Wikipedia, and 4Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America: 1932-1946, Wilmette, 1947, pp.5-7.

Part 4:

My mother and father were
just about to meet in 1936,
although I will never know
for sure exactly since their
marriage certificate is dated
1943. I have no idea when it
was that they met, during the
war or just before, but I know
when the Guardian advised the
North American Baha'is, & '36
was the critical year he urged a
systematic, rigorously pursued,
and well-established plan be set
in motion, extended, unfolding
into the future into the decades1
that would be my life & the life
of society into a Formative Age.2

1. Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America: 1932-1946, Wilmette, 1947, p.7.
2 The Formative Age of the international Baha'i community began in 1921 and will extend well into the future, possibly for centuries.

Ron Price
2/2/'15
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married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)