DIANNE BUTLER OUT OF THE BOX
IDON’T know how some of you hardcore Agatha Christie fans are going to feel about the Murder on the Orient Express remake tonight. Not entirely thrilled, maybe.
It’s a grittier start to any Poirot I’ve seen. That’s not to say there aren’t some lovely deco light fittings at the Tokatlian Hotel when Poirot arrives to check in. But that’s as far as he gets. There’s a message waiting for him and he must leave immediately for London.
‘‘ Book me on the Orient Express,’’ he tells the concierge, who soon after reports that the Calais coach is fully booked. Everyone wants to travel tonight.
Imagine if the murder on the Orient Express went ahead without Poirot . . . well, it just wouldn’t happen. Poirot turns around and there’s the director of the line, another Belgian, who tells him there’ll be a berth for him no matter what, he’s Hercule Poirot. But as things pan out, Poirot’s reduced to sharing a carriage with a stranger. Quelle horreur.
The cast is more star studded than recent Poirots, but Murder on the Orient Express is probably a bit of a magnet: Barbara Hershey, Hugh Bonneville, Eileen Atkins, Toby Jones, (amazing as Truman Capote in Infamous), David Morrissey, Samuel West, and of course David Suchet, who brings everything he’s got to the role as the prissy detective.
Odds are you already know the story, which is why you may be disappointed. This isn’t done by the book.
The train is lovely. There are brooches and furs and red nails. People are liberal with their use of ‘‘ settlers’’ — including, if you pay attention, Poirot, who’s disturbed in the middle of a hit and isn’t happy about it. But he’s clearly not himself here. Older than usual, prone to a lot of talk about religion, it doesn’t seem entirely normal.
Phillip Martin, who directed Prime Suspect 7, did this, and it has none of the sparkle of an Agatha Christie house party. Poirot ABC1, 8.30pm
Prissy: David Suchet.