Before David Suchet transformed himself into his alter ego, Hercule Poirot, for Murder on the Orient Express, he traveled on the luxury train and took viewers along for the ride in the documentary, David Suchet on the Orient Express.
David Suchet on the Orient Express premiered in the US as a PBS Masterpiece special that coincided with the stateside debut of Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express nearly five years ago. And in a couple of weeks, select public TV stations across the country will begin re-airing it.
The travelogue lets us, the viewers, be Suchet’s travel companions as he “follows in the footsteps of Agatha Christie’s Poirot on the Orient Express” and rides the rails from Calais to Venice and Prague, in high style and comfort, on the most famous train in the world.
Traveling in the lap of luxury, Suchet sets about to discover (and enlighten us with) the history of the Orient Express, some of the train’s real-life dramas and famous passengers, and why Agatha Christie chose it as the setting for one of Hercule Poirot’s most famous cases, Murder on the Orient Express.
In recounting the story, Suchet notes Christie’s attention to detail about the Orient Express when crafting the mystery, such as the click of the wash basin and the placement of the hook for holding one’s fob watch.
Interspersed throughout David Suchet on the Orient Express are the actor’s chats with members of the train’s crew and passengers, archival footage from the train’s early days, and Suchet providing sad-but-true facts about the train’s use during World War II.
There’s also a segment devoted to Venice, complete with Suchet riding a gondola through the canals, and shots of St. Mark’s Square and the Bridge of Sighs. The city has served as the setting for many a murder mystery (by “mostly foreigners”), but none by Christie.
There is so much cool stuff in this special, and it’s a real treat to watch. One of my favorite parts is seeing Suchet turn into, not Poirot, but a giddy “schoolboy,” when he gets to drive the Orient Express.
The public TV stations listed below are broadcasting David Suchet on the Orient Express starting Sunday, 1 March 2015. Check your local listings for air dates and times.
(For viewers whose local stations aren’t screening the special, it is available as one of the bonus features on the Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Complete Cases Collection DVD set.)