Agatha Christie’s Poirot Three Act Tragedy (2009) – 5/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Writer (Screenplay): Nick Dear
Jane Asher: Lady Mary
Kate Ashfield: Miss Wills
Suzanne Bertish: Miss Milray
Anna Carteret: Mrs Babbington
Anastasia Hille: Cynthia Dacres
Art Malik: Sir Bartholomew Strange
Tony Maudsley: Supt Crossfield
Kimberley Nixon: Egg
Ronan Vibert: Captain Dacres
Tom Wisdom: Oliver Manders
Martin Shaw: Sir Charles Cartwright
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Ashley Pearce

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Three Act Tragedy (2009)

At a cocktail party hosted by famous actor and Poirot’s friend Sir Charles Cartwright, Reverend Stephen Babbington collapses and dies after sipping his cocktail. It looks like poison but his glass is clean and the inquest labels it a tragedy and Poirot agrees. A month later, however, the guests reassemble minus Cartwright and Poirot, and someone else, Sir Bartholomew Strange, dies in the exact same manner. This time there is no question: it is murder – nicotine poisoning – and there’s a prime suspect, new butler Ellis, but there’s still no poison in the glass.


This is a clumsy episode where adapter Nick Dear and director Ashley Pearce show no understanding of the plot. They don’t make enough of the SPOILER red-herring investigation into what connects the parson and the psychiatrist, fail to setup the motive (it carries no meaning for modern viewers) and ostentatiously and suspiciously avoid showing SPOILER the butler Ellis. As with so many of the two-hour Poirot’s, what’s really missing is humanity and humour and they fail to connect to the audience emotionally. This is a story about the shattering of the trust of friendship but you’d never tell. So instead of being a Three Act Tragedy, what we’ve got is simply Three Acts.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.


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