David Suchet, the star of Poirot, joins Doctor Who this week but he is careful to avoid leaving any clues about what fans can expect.
The British actor, who played Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective for more than two decades, won’t confirm whether his character, The Landlord, is a friend or foe.
“I can’t divulge anything because one of the great things about Doctor Who is everything is a secret before it actually goes out,” he says.
“I’ll give you a teaser and say I’m not the usual landlord that you would expect and, put that into the context of Doctor Who, then the imagination should start firing in all directions.”
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Suchet makes no secret about his delight in scoring a role on the iconic British sci-fi series alongside his good friend Peter Capaldi.
“When I got the phone call from my agent asking would I be interested in being in Doctor Who and could she send me the script to be read, I said, ‘Would you please ring them and say yes’.
“She said, ‘But you haven’t read the script’ and I said, ‘I don’t care. I want to be in. At my stage of life this is a programme that I have to be in’,” Suchet says.
Now 71, the critically acclaimed actor has fond memories of the series’ early days.
“I was there with William Hartnell (the first Doctor) right at the very, very beginning,” he says, adding while he loved the show, as a boy, he was frightened of the Daleks.
“But as well as being frightened it sort of drew you in to it as well. There’s that thing about human beings. You might be frightened and get this adrenalin rush but it doesn’t stop you watching or doing things.”
Suchet puts Doctor Who’s enduring popularity down to great writers, including the episode he stars in which comes from the pen of Mike Bartlett, the man who wrote the hit series Doctor Foster and adapted Chariots Of Fire and Charles III for the stage.
“This is a major writer and when you get these wonderful writers who put pen to paper and do a Doctor Who, you get something extraordinary and it inspires the imagination of every single person who is going to be part of an episode of Doctor Who,” he says.
“You’re on a little set somewhere in Wales doing a little scene that you know will be seen by 100 million people in all parts of the world. It’s global and it’s a phenomenon, and it deserves to be, and I’m jumping up and down, excited that this programme is coming on.
“I’m going to watch it as it airs because I always do. It’s just the highlight of my nearly 50-year career. I never thought I’d ever be in a Doctor Who but these things happen to one and when they do, you seize the opportunity, you seize the day, you seize the moment.”
In fact, Suchet says at an age when many people are considering retirement, he is on a career high.
“I might be remembered as Poirot but I was never typecast in the industry,” he says.
“I’m a traditional character actor. By that I mean I’m not interested and never have been interested in being me.
“I’m not interested in myself in any way. I love to serve my writers and become the characters they create. I transform myself. I am a chameleon.”
Transform himself he certainly has since filming his last scenes as Hercule Poirot in 2013.
Last year he starred in the three-part television comedy Decline And Fall alongside Jack Whitehall and Eva Longoria and he has also finished filming American Assassin with Taylor Kitsch and Dylan O’Brien.
“Decline And Fall was extraordinary because that was a return to comedy and I hadn’t done full-on comedy for 30 years,” Suchet says.
“That was just another terrific gift last year plus I found myself filming in Wales again, very near to where I filmed Doctor Who. That was a real joy.
“You might think my conversation is full of hyperbole and cheesyisms but, really, I’m one of the luckiest actors I could hope to have been. I’ve just had the most wonderful career being so many different people.”
Doctor Who, Prime, episode airs Sunday May 7.
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