Yeah, I know they’re technically about 50 minutes when you lose the adverts. But having once listed my favourite feature-length episodes of ITV’s Poirot series, I thought I’d mop up the best of the rest.
* Murder in the Mews (15 January 1989) – this early episode has a neat twist and also demonstrates how the show embellished some often thin short stories when adapting them for TV.
* The Third Floor Flat (5 February 1989) – Josie Lawrence pops up in an episode set mainly in Poirot’s block of flats.
* Problem At Sea (19 February 1989) – one of the earliest Poirot-on-holiday stories, and the first episode where I worked out who did it (I was nine years old and very smug).
* The King of Clubs (12 March 1989) – especially in its early series, the show often used its 1930s setting to provide colour and flavour. This episode, for example, centres on the British film industry.
* The Dream (19 March 1989) – Agatha Christie’s plotting sometimes relies on you not being able to *see* the events and that obviously presents a problem for television. This episode has an ingenious solution.
* The Veiled Lady (14 January 1990) – in this light, frothy episode, Poirot dresses up as a workman so he can burgle a house.
* The Lost Mine (21 January 1990) – a slight mystery, but a stylish episode that uses London’s Chinatown as a backdrop.
* The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim (4 February 1990) – there’s a sticks-out-like-a-sore-thumb twist, but also lots of comedy. Poirot learns some magic tricks, has to look after a parrot, and sends Hastings out to investigate on his behalf. The episode was written by David Renwick (One Foot in the Grave, Jonathan Creek, Love Soup).
* How Does Your Garden Grow? (6 January 1991) – a nice, well-written mystery with some lovely subplots and a comedic conclusion.
* Wasps’ Nest (27 January 1991) – Peter Capaldi guest stars in a dark yet bucolic mystery story.
* The Mystery of the Spanish Chest (17 February 1991) – a nasty whodunit with stylish flashbacks.
* The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge (10 March 1991) – the script contains a superb sleight of hand, which plays tricks with the drama convention that characters always tell the truth about certain things.
* The Chocolate Box (21 February 1993) – a flashback episode to when Poirot was a copper in pre-war Belgium. Oddly, everyone has an English accent… except Poirot.
* Dead Man’s Mirror (28 February 1993) – a cracking mystery set in a country house with a limited cast of suspects (ie, the definitive Agatha setting).
* Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan (7 March 1993) – Poirot and Hastings visit the seaside in the last ever ‘hour-long’ episode. A valuable necklace is stolen and I claim my five guineas.