DIANNE BUT­LER OUT OF THE BOX

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Sunday -

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.

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