David Suchet on life after Poirot

Undated handout of David Suchet. See PA Feature BOOK Suchet. Picture credit should read: David Suchet/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Suchet.
Undated handout of David Suchet. See PA Feature BOOK Suchet. Picture credit should read: David Suchet/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Suchet.
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He will forever be recognised as Poirot, Agatha Christie’s iconic Belgian detective whom he played for 25 years.

Yet this year David Suchet is celebrating a career that has spanned 50 years, from Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde, Edward Teller to Doctor Who, Decline And Fall and the recent TV series Press, co-starring Ben Chaplin.

He relays this story in his beautifully packaged memoir, which not only charts his life in words but also in pictures, featuring images that Suchet - a keen photographer - has taken behind the scenes of the great and the good, intimate portraits and shots of the minutiae of his career and family life.

There are stylised photographs of actor and comedian Jack Whitehall and ex-Doctor Who Peter Capaldi, candid shots of Stephen Graham in Decline And Fall, along with Dames Julie Walters and Emma Thompson in full costume.

Suchet, 73, is one of the few actors who has worked constantly since studying at Lamda (the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art) and joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973, where he remained for 13 years. Soon after leaving, he clinched the role of Poirot, which he played until the detective’s death, in 2013’s final episode.

“Poirot shot me into the hemisphere of fame. Thank God for my family and for a wife who was an actor in her own right. And thank God for my upbringing and for my faith,” he reflects on the shock of being thrown into the spotlight.

“I accepted the fame gladly because if you’re not well-known as an actor you don’t work - it’s as simple as that. I hope I’ve never let it go to my head, I’m grateful for the roles it’s afforded me and I hope it hasn’t given me an inflated sense of myself in society.”

He says he’s trying to be more selective in the roles he takes on in his 70s, so that he can spend more time with his family, and observes that without his wife, Sheila, there would have been no career.

“She’s given me every opportunity - even during difficult times when I had to go to New York for six months, when I went to Mexico to film at Christmas, she’s never ever said no to something I wanted to do. She’s been the most generous, wonderful wife any actor could ever hope to have and has allowed me my career while saying no to her own career, to look after the family.”