Monday, 14 October 2019

“Life? Don’t talk to me about life!”

I am afraid that this blog has done it again. My recent post about W.B. Yeats contained an allusion to a quote by Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe. No sooner had it been published than Stephen Moore, the voice of said Marvin on radio and television, sadly died. He was of course a most distinguished actor - I remember seeing him as Hector in the NT's touring production of 'The History Boys' - but I'm afraid he will forever live in an awful lot of memories as a depressed machine.

Speaking of distinguished actors I have been to see David Suchet speak about his life. Just as Jeremy Brett is the definitive Holmes, so surely there is no other Poirot (who, just like Marvin, had a brain the size of a planet) to rival Suchet's.

He either finds it very easy to slip in and out of character as the Belgian detective or, despite having played many other parts in his career, the boundaries between life and fiction are beginning to blur for him. In fact he told one story about one lady who encountering him in costume just off set on location expressed a fervent hope that there hadn't been a murder locally, and when being told by him in Poirot's accent that he was merely on holiday replied by thanking him for choosing her hometown in which to vacation. It was all very entertaining and it is always thought-provoking to note what a contribution migrants to the UK and their families have made to national life: as well, of course, as his broadcaster brother John, his father was one of Sir Alexander Fleming's assistants in the early days of penicillin and his grandfather was the Fleet Street photographer who took the first photograph of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson.


  1. Listening to Suchet discuss his life must have been fascinating. Like you, I find Brett IS Holmes and Suchet IS Poirot. Some actors have the ability to take a role and redefine it in their image.

  2. And Fry & Laurie = Jeeves and Wooster.

    Getting back to Marvin, wasn't he also the universe's most over-qualified 'car parker'?