Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Final Series Chronology - Some Guesses

Since the production crew are now just about half way through the Series 13 shoot, we have a broad idea of when the episodes of the final series will be set. Consequently, I thought I'd suggest some ideas for placement of the episodes in the chronology:

This was the first episode to be completed, with a shoot running from October to November 2012. David Suchet has suggested on twitter that the episode will have a late 1940s setting (one particular reply mentioned 1946). Hopefully the setting is as late as possible (very late 40s, early 50s), especially if they decide to still make Judith Hastings's daughter. But as of now, the most likely setting is October 1946.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2013: This episode has been set in October 1949 (see '1949' post for details).

Elephants Can Remember
This episode, featuring Ariadne Oliver, was shot in January and February 2013. It will probably be the first episode of the final series. In chronolgy terms, taking the month of the shoot into account, I assume a January 1938 setting would be the most likely, with November/December 1937 (after Third Girl), December 1938 or January 1939 as possible alternatives.

[UPDATE JUNE 2013: The episode has been set in 1938 (see '1938' post for screencaps and details). I've chosen mid-to-late February, following Murder on the Orient Express.]
The Big Four
This episode was shot in February and March 2013. Hopefully, this will be the third episode of the series, directly preceding Labours of Hercules and following Elephants Can Remember and Dead Man's Folly in chronology terms. Since this is a rather epic case (Christie's story covers an entire year), the adaptation is likely to cover at least a couple of months. Reportedly, the adaptation is said to centre on the looming of war on the horizon. Consequently, I think January/February/March etc 1939 or February/March/April etc 1938 are possible options, the former better than the other in my opinion, though it would be nice to have this episode follow MOTOE (Jan/Feb 1938). Since this reintroduces Miss Lemon, Japp and Hastings for the first time in over ten years (real time) / since Evil Under the Sun / Murder in Mesopotamia in series time, these episodes might have to be moved to fit the chronology (I really hope they don't refer back to these cases too much, as that could jepordize the entire chronology!). For instance, Mesopotamia could easily be moved to January 1937 (Appointment could then be moved to February 1937 or December 1937). Also, if they go for 1938 or 1939, The Clocks would have to be set in May 1938 or May 1939 respectively.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2013: The episode has been set in March/April 1939 (see '1939' post for screencaps and details).

Labours of Hercules
This will reportedly start shooting in mid-April 2013 for approximately one month. Since this is also an epic case (about a year in Christie's collection), the adaptation will probably cover at least a couple of months. I suggest April/May/June etc 1939 or April/May/June etc 1940, though the latter would recquire the introduction of the War in some kind, I should think. See options for the only possible clash, The Clocks, above.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2013: No particular references, but Countess Rossakoff mentions that it's been twenty years since she and Poirot last met. See '1946' post to see how I've attempted to solve this issue.

Dead Man's Folly
This will reportedly start shooting in mid-May for approximately one month. The story includes Ariadne Oliver and will apparently be filmed at Greenway (Christie's home!). My guess would be that they go for a May/June 1938 setting, possibly making this the final case of the Oliver/Poirot collaboration (unless Elephants is set later). Other options would be May/June 1937 (especially if Whitehaven isn't shown on screen) or July 1937.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2013: No particular references, so I've placed this episode in June 1938 (see '1938' post for screencaps and details).

The above guesses are obviously very tentative and I'll probably be wrong on most of them. But if there's anything I really have expectations for (chronology-wise), then it's a proper reintroduction of Hastings, Japp and Lemon that does not ruin this chronology. In other words, the number of years they've been absent in TV time should hopefully not be referred to too specifically, since the chronology only allows for an absence of about two to three years at the most (the last episode with the three of them and explicit references to a time setting in my chronology is Lord Edgware Dies, which I've set in June/July 1937. That could possibly be changed to fit a 1936 time frame, but that's the absolute earliest). In short, their absence can't have been longer than from 1937 to 1939/40. Also, I really hope they don't mess up with the Judith Hastings appearance. Hopefully she's been changed into a niece or adopted daughter or something along those lines. If she hasn't, then I really hope they've set the episode in the early 50s or something. Episodes with Ariadne Oliver tend not to have too explicit references, so I'm not too scared about those. In any case, we'll just have to wait and see. I'll post the episodes in the chronology as soon as they have been transmitted. Stay tuned.

Oh, and do have a look at my other blog, Investigating Agatha Christie's Poirot, while you're waiting!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Some updates

Hi everyone!

Just to let you know I'm still here, infrequently checking back on old posts and making tiny edits whenever I've discovered something new / a mistake in the chronology. I'm also - from time to time - publishing new posts over at Most recently, I discussed possible options for the inclusion of the stand-alone short story not to be filmed as part of the series (The Lemesurier Inheritance). I'm also planning to delve into behind-the-scenes aspects of the series, both in terms of interviews, documentaries, locations, sets etc. So that's the place to go if you want a broader look on the series, not just the chronology of the episodes (even though that is my great passion, obviously)!

Chronology-wise I'm still interested in comments from you readers to try and make this as correct as possible. I do value your comments, and I apologise to those of you who have e-mailed me over the last couple of months, as I haven't been able to check my account as often as I used to. But I promise that I'll check my account more frequently in the months to come.

The final series will go into production in a couple of weeks (October 15th, I've heard). The year ahead will be very interesting indeed for anyone with a passion for this series. I'm excited to get news on the production of each episode, particularly, of course, any hints to chronology. I will post here or on as soon as I have any news.

Thank you again for following my blog(s)! I am still completely amazed by the number of visitors this blog has from all over the world. I had no idea my musings would have such a massive audience. So thank you all, and let's all enjoy the final series once it gets shown in a year or two!

UPDATE: It seems likely that Curtain will be given a late 1940s setting, as David Suchet has mentioned this on Twitter. 

UPDATE MARCH 2013: I've made some significant changes to the chronology, moving a few episodes around. Do have a look and tell me what you think. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Say hello to my new blog - a spin-off from poirotchronology - It's still very much on a planning stage, but as you will see from the blog, the general idea is that I will comment on an discuss all other aspects of the television series - anything and everything, really. The first few posts will hopefully start to arrive by the end of this week. Stay tuned, and feel free to comment if you have any suggestions for this side project.

P.S. I will keep updating the chronology as well - but this will hopefully function as an appetiser while we're waiting for the final series of adaptations!

Monday, November 14, 2011


I had almost given up hope, but today it was finally revealed: Agatha Christie's Poirot WILL be brought to its conclusion! ITV has just commissioned the final five stories: Labours of Hercules, Dead Man's Folly, The Big Four, Elephants Can Remember and Curtain. The episodes will go into production during 2012. See this press release for more details:

Words cannot describe the sense of pure joy and relief I felt when I discovered these fantastistic news. I am so happy I just can't stop smiling. I must, however, say I'm slightly annoyed, from a completist view, that the final short story, The Lemesurier Inheritance, will not be made. But, to be honest, it is a minor loss. The important thing is that a television phenomenon will have a proper sortie. And I look forward to placing these episodes in a complete chronology of the episodes. Have a look at the previous post if you are interested in how these episodes would (hopefully) fit into the chronology.

I don't think there's much else left to say, other than congratulations to all fans on this truly wonderful day!

EDIT APRIL 2012: David Suchet has confirmed on Twitter and in a recent interview with BBC Radio 4 that he will start filming the final stories in mid-October, and the first story to film is apparently Curtain.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Future? (and some updates)

It's now been a few months since I posted the final result of this little project. I'm still occasionally re-watching episodes and noting down things that may differ from what I originally believed to be correct in terms of chronology (and I do, from time to time, make changes to some of the posts if something comes to mind). So there might be some minor changes in the future.

Now, back to why I'm posting this. I have noticed that the blog does have some visitors - which, of course, I'm delighted to see! I never really thought this could be of any interest to people other than myself. So that's why I have felt an increasing need to post an update with some thoughts on the future of this blog, the chronology and the 'Poirot' series.

The Future of the Blog
I must say, the fact that this blog has so many unique visitors from all over the world has really taken me by surprise. I'm not really sure where to take it from here. My initial plan was to leave this blog in peace - as some kind of encyclopedia, where the occasional fan or two could double-check episodes or have some food for thought. But recently, I've played with the idea of expanding the project and discuss other aspects of the episodes as well - like the additional page on Poirot's apartment. If there's any interest in this, I'd be glad to hear from you. If not, then I'm happy with things as they are.

The Future of the Chronology
As I've already mentioned, I do occasionally update the original posts with corrections and/or additions. I'll probably continue doing this at unequal time intervals in the future. BUT: I would very much like to hear from you as well - comments on my proposed chronology, corrections (I've definitely made some mistakes along the way and probably forgotten something) and additions. Any tips or hints are always welcome.

The Future of the Series
As you may or may not know, the future of the 'Poirot' series hangs by a very thin thread. As a very passionate fan, I would of course be devastated if the series were to be cancelled so close to its finale. Reports have flourished online of ITV's intention to cancel the series because of the considerable economic costs of production. Though some recent reports (with dubious sources) have claimed the series to be in pre-production again, I really can't bring myself to believe this until ITV has made an official announcement. Anyway. I must say I really hope the series will pull through; closure will never really come until the final novel is filmed.

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting the blog. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful!


July: I've now added an e-mail address to the blog; If you have any questions, suggestions or requests, I'll do my best to answer them. 

August: I've enabled comments on the different pages (Timeline, Apartment etc.). 

September: A new page has been added - Episodes.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

How It All Went - the Denouement


During the course of nearly one year, I’ve traced the chronology of one of my favourite television series – Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Through the posts on this blog, I’ve tried to present my findings. In general, I’m surprised to find that things fitted neatly together to such a great extent. Of course, I have had to take some radical measures and set quite a few episodes earlier or later than intended, as I cannot bring myself to agree with the writers on all of them, but all in all, this project has made it evident that there really is some sort of order in the chaos – even if it wasn’t intended.

1936 – Brian Eastman’s and Clive Exton’s decision
A short while ago, I discovered an interview with the original Poirot producer, Brian Eastman, on the chronology of the series. In Agatha Christie’s Poirot: A Celebration of the Great Detective (1995) by Peter Haining, Eastman quite clearly states that it was a conscious decision to place all the stories in 1936, just as I’ve seen him state in the documentary Super Sleuths (2006) on ITV. I’ll reprint some extracts from this interview here:
“(…) to me there was something about all her [Agatha Christie’s] writing which felt pre-war (…) I felt it was important to start the series in a pre-war setting. We were also helped by the fact that many of the short stories fitted very neatly into that time frame” (p. 13).

“(…) when we were deciding on a date for Poirot we looked at all the aspects of the Thirties (…) and came to the conclusion that 1936 would be a very good year!” (p. 14).
In the same interview, script writer Clive Exton explains that the production team thought 1936 fitted very well with Poirot’s character:

“(…) In a way the mid- to late- Thirties were an incredibly flourishing and futuristic period – and Poirot was a man who was very interested in such things [modern inventions] (…)” (p. 14).

Brian Eastman adds that they did not set all episodes in 1936:

“’we do allow ourselves a little bit of license’ (…) ‘sometimes we take an event from 1935 and sometimes from 1937 – but pretty much within a twelve- to fifteen-month period (…)” (p. 15).

Interestingly, the attitude of both David Suchet and the current production team must be different from Eastman’s and Suchet’s attitudes in 1995 towards the placement of stories, as is seen in this quote from Haining's book:

“(…) eventually we shall come to books that cannot be set pre-war. Those, that is, which have integral parts that can only occur because of post-war activities. So we have been facing up to the fact that we shall have to see him go through the Second World War and then into the Fifties and Sixties. In fact, David is already thinking of how he will allow himself to age bit by bit (…)” (p. 39).
There are several other interesting bits of information in this excellent, rare interview (buy the book if you can!). But these small references provide extremely fascinating clues to the placement of the novels and short stories. That the original production team decided to place the stories in 1936 does not really come as a surprise. After all, this is more or less common knowledge by now. That they admit placing episodes outside the 1936 time frame is another matter. Not surprisingly, I find it hard to believe Eastman’s “within a twelve- to fifteen month period” as the limit of their placement of episodes. I’ve found specific 'evidence' to prove that episodes were deliberately placed as early as June 1934. 

However, the most intriguing information in this interview is arguably that Eastman, Exton and Suchet actually planned to move the series onwards in time, to the 40s, 50s and 60s! Obviously, this would have made the feel and look of the series completely different – and a chronology of Poirot’s life would have been as unbelievable as in Christie’s original stories (possibly even more unbelievable, as aging on screen and aging in text is visually very different. The post-Eastman producers must have had radically different views on the development of the series, as we (since 2004) have seen that several novels have been moved from their original post-war setting (e.g. The Clocks, Third Girl) to a pre-war setting in the TV series.

My findings – some clear patterns
There are a few patterns evident from my “research”:

1)      Several episodes (18) do not contain references (see previous post).
2)      Several episodes made before 2004 have been consciously placed outside the 1936 time frame (1934 and 1935)
3)      Of the post-2004 episodes, several (6) do not contain references, while those that do more or less exclusively refer to dates outside the 1936 time frame (1937 and 1938, possibly 1939 and 1940).
4)      It seems probable that the current producers are aiming at a conclusion of the series directly after the Second World War (Curtain), making Poirot’s on-screen timeline both significantly younger and, arguably, significantly more believable than Christie’s original. The fact that Poirot is younger is also commented on in Peter Haining’s book (see below). As I’ve stated earlier, I see Poirot as being probably around 40 when arriving in England and around 60 in the majority of the episodes. I imagine him to die around 1945-50, aged around 70.
“What was altogether different about this episode [The Mysterious Affair at Styles] was that the little detective was now a younger man (…) [David Suchet’s] head was partially covered with a new hairpiece to make the immaculately groomed hair look thicker” (p. 27).
A note on the producer's chronology
It seems evident to me that the producers have had some sort of chronology in mind, as is evident from the above mentioned quotes and countless interviews with David Suchet. In short, I think this chronology plays out more or less as follows:

1934-5: Most episodes of Series One-Three. Poirot in Clapham Cook (1935) is at the height of his career. He lives in Whitehaven Mansions, employs Miss Lemon (and possibly Hastings?).

1936: Most episodes of Series Four-Eight. Hastings meets Bella in Series Six (1995-6) and returns in Series Seven (2000), having lost his ranch in Argentina. He visits his cousin in Mesopotamia in Series Eight and has since disappeared from screen (supposedly he's back in Argentina).

1937-8: Most episodes of Series Nine-Twelve. New producers arrived, and the decision to move on in time must have been made almost immideately. Poirot is now living alone with his manservant George.

(See also the page 'Episodes', where I have listed all episodes in viewing order with chronology references).
While I make no attempt to hide my disappointment with the script writers and producers as to the chaos they've created in terms of chronology, I still acknowledge that this chronology (almost) works. It does, however, require any eagle-eyed viewer to ignore all references to setting - or regard the timeframe as a very "floating" mid-to-late 1930s setting.

I’ve learned a lot about my favourite television series through this little project. It’s been exciting to sort out the quirky little details, even though I've really been struggling with some of them. And I might not be completely done yet; there are still some I am very uncertain about. So things might change. And anyhow, I’ll probably have to place coming series in the chronology as well (I’m really hoping for news on a new series soon!).

My hopes for the coming series are that the producers and writers will bring the series to a reasonable end. I hope they continue what seems to be a conscious decision – to place episodes in the post-1936 time frame. Hopefully, some of the stories to come – like The Big Four and Labours of Hercules – are placed directly preceding World War II; between 1938-1940. Then, Curtain, the final novel, will be set alone in the mid-to-late 1940s – almost ten years after the others. That would, in my opinion, give the series a decent and reasonable conclusion. (This does, however, require them to change the character of Judith Hastings in Curtain, as she would be about ten or twelve years old in a late-40s version of the story! Perhaps she could be Hastings's niece instead of daughter?)

Finally, let me conclude by saying that it is my genuine wish that this blog will serve as an inspiration and a source of information for all other Poirot fans. I would reccommend reading the posts in publication order - from the first to the last post. This will make it easier to follow the references I make to other episodes in the chronology.

I kindly ask that you will respect the work and effort I have put into this project by asking for my permission (leave a comment) before taking any of the information on this blog for your own use. Thank you.

EDIT:  I just want to clarify that this blog will not be updated, unless I discover any mistakes, uncovered areas etc OR new episodes are produced. The blog is intended to be an "encyclopedia" of 'Poirot' chronology and will not be developed further from the basic posts already on here. Comments are, of course, more than welcome.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


OCTOBER: Curtain: Poirot's Last Case
Poirot's letter to Hastings reads 'October 1949'. However, Hastings has a grown-up daughter, Judith, and that shouldn't really be possible. He met Bella Duveen, his wife, in 1936. That would make Judith 12 or 13 years old - if she was conceived and born immediately afterwards. The reference to the year can't be ignored. After all, the episode is obviously set soon after the war; Styles is in decay and Hastings mentions the rationing. 

The only possible solution here is to explain Judith's age by making her Hastings' adopted daughter. As always with these compromises, this isn't a perfect solution, but I think it works. I'lll try to explain:

Let's imagine that Hastings (or Bella) was sterile, and they wanted a child. They adopt Judith, an orphaned young girl of seven or eight, possibly when Hastings returns to Argentina in 1937 after his brief visit to England in the summer. This would also explain her Englishness, if she was schooled in England, and decided to go back there after the war. Hastings makes a brief return to England for Poirot's 'funeral'. Poirot doubtlessly sent Judith presents and cards for Christmas, birthdays and every other occassion, and her father is bound to have been talking about his adventures with Poirot almost non-stop, so this would explain her 'Uncle Hercule' comment. She feels as if she knows him like a member of the family.

Hastings is a kind-hearted and caring man. He would love Judith like his own flesh and blood. Also, Poirot biographer Anne Hart has suggested that Hastings might himself have been an orphaned child:

'We know that he went to Eton, but the only member of his family ever mentioned is his great-aunt Mary (...) It is possible that Hastings was orphaned at an early age, for one of the first things we learn about him is that he had 'no near relations or close friends'. Perhaps great-aunt Mary had been his guardian?' ('The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot', p. 156)

Hastings' comment after Poirot's death (in the adaptation), that Poirot had been like a father to him, also seems to support the claim that he was adopted. If we are to accept this theory, it would be even more natural for Hastings to adopt a daughter. He knows what being an orphan entails. It would also add to him feeling so protective of her; he really wants her to do well in life.

This isn't ideal, but it's an acceptable solution to a fairly obvious chronology issue. After  all, the producers could have no idea when the series began in 1989 that it would be running for 25 years within the same setting (late 1930s) and that there would then be a need to explain Hastings' daughter in the final adaptation.