Facts About Hercule Poirot

We asked Mark Aldridge, author of Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World to update our Hercule Poirot facts to include some of his latest findings.

1. Hercule Poirot first appeared in Agatha Christie’s first published novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which debuted in 1920. In her initial version Poirot explained all in a court room setting, but this was changed to a more familiar drawing-room discussion by the time it was published.

2. The first description of Poirot was by Hastings in The Mysterious Affair at Styles who said, "He was hardly more than five feet four inches but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side…The neatness of his attire was almost incredible; I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound."

3. He is a retired Belgian police officer turned world famous private detective, but Christie had initially considered different detectives for her mystery, including a schoolboy or a scientist.

4. When first published in the magazine The Sketch, the Poirot short story ‘The Chocolate Box’ featured the sleuth mentioning his ‘little sister Yvonne’.

5. Poirot is unhappy with disorder and once said that he finds it "really insupportable that every hen lays an egg of a different size! What symmetry can there be on the breakfast table?" He’s also known to have refused to eat an irregularly shaped loaf of bread.

6. Poirot first appeared on television as early as 1937, less than a year after the BBC launched its service. Christie’s one-act play The Wasp’s Nest debuted on the medium, with two live performances starring Francis L. Sullivan as Poirot.

7. On the radio, one of Poirot’s most notable appearances was in Yellow Iris. The 1937 BBC production made use of the cabaret setting, as Christie’s script played out the story in-between a selection of musical numbers.

8. Poirot takes great pride in his appearance from his immaculately groomed moustache to his patent leather shoes. He uses a special preparation called ‘Revivit’ to conceal his grey hair.

9. Poirot’s moustache was so important that Agatha Christie was asked to approve its appearance in the 1965 comedy mystery film The Alphabet Murders, which starred Tony Randall as the detective.

10. Poirot’s obituary appeared on the front page of The New York Times in 1975, in advance of the publication of Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case – the first time a fictional character received this treatment.

11. In the United States, Harold Huber played the role of Poirot in a series of radio adventures, most of which were original stories. The first episode, broadcast in 1945, was introduced by Agatha Christie herself.

12. Agatha Christie claimed that for Poirot, "Cards on the Table was the murder which won his carefully technical approval."

13. In a rare filmed interview, Agatha Christie was asked which was the best Poirot novel. After some hesitation ("Oh dear that’s a tall order!") she declared that it was probably Murder on the Orient Express.

14. In 2014, HarperCollins published the first authorised Poirot continuation novel, The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah, which reached the bestseller charts in 16 territories including the UK and US. This has since been followed by three further books, most recently The Killings at Kingfisher Hill in 2020.

15. Charles Laughton was the first actor to play Hercule Poirot on the stage in 1928’s production of Alibi (based on The Murder of Roger Ackroyd), and he has since been played by Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov, David Suchet, John Malkovich and Kenneth Branagh to name a few.

16. One of Agatha Christie’s abandoned ideas was to have Poirot inhabit the world of the board game Cluedo, including such characters as Professor Plum (with a candlestick).

17. Poirot is very particular about what he drinks. He regularly consumes hot chocolate and tisanes, but he once called decaffeinated coffee an ‘abomination’.

18. Many actors have been considered for the role of Poirot in film and television adaptations, and those who were discussed as possibilities but never made it to the screen include Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley.

19. Poirot has been parodied many times, including by the likes of Hugh Laurie in the Spice Girls film Spice World. One of the best known spoofs was by Ronnie Barker in the BBC comedy show The Two Ronnies, although Barker had actually already played the part ‘straight’ on stage in Oxford in the 1950s. Most recently, fans have considered him as a source of inspiration for the Benoit Blanc, the brilliant Knives Out detective.

20. Poirot stars in 33 novels and 59 short stories and 1 original full-length play by Agatha Christie, and 4 continuation novels by Sophie Hannah.

Mark Aldridge is the author of the new book, Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World. Packed with original research, never-before-published correspondence, images from the Agatha Christie archives, and a foreword from Mark Gatiss, this book will delight fans of Hercule Poirot and mystery lovers alike.

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