David Suchet

Death on the Nile

Dramatised by Kevin Elyot




TV episode from 2004 based on the novel by Agatha Christie


Season 9, episode 57, original UK air date 12 April 2004


Running time - 1h 37m 42s (on DVD - The Complete Collection 2006)


Front cover at right: Magazine 1 in The Poirot Collection




Plot   Characters   Quotes   Notes




Cast and Crew


Director: Andy Wilson

Screenplay: Kevin Elyot

Music: Christopher Gunning

Design: Michael Pickwoad

Producer: Margaret Mitchell

Associate producer: David Suchet




David Suchet as Hercule Poirot


Guest stars:


James Fox..... Colonel Race

Emma Malin..... Jacqueline de Bellefort

JJ Field..... Simon Doyle

Emily Blunt..... Linnet Ridgeway- Doyle

Judy Parfitt..... Miss van Schuyler

Daisy Donovan..... Cornelia Robson

Barbara Flynn..... Mrs. Allerton

Daniel Lapaine..... Tim Allerton

David Soul.....  Andrew Pennington

Frances de la Tour..... Salome Otterbourne

Zoë Telford..... Rosalie Otterbourne

Alastair MacKenzie..... Ferguson

Steve Pemberton..... Dr. Bessner

George Yiasoumi..... Cruise Manager

Elodie Kendall.....  Joanna Southwood

Félicité du Jeu..... Louise Bourget


- Egypt - 


by Amanda DeWees on dvdverdict 


“Linnett Ridgeway (Emily Blunt) has it all: youth, beauty, wealth - and, pretty soon, her best friend's fiancé. Now Linnett Doyle, she and her handsome new husband Simon (JJ Field) set off on the honeymoon that Simon had planned to take with the woman he jilted, Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Malin). But Jacqueline won't be cast aside that easily: Hurt and angry, she follows the newlyweds everywhere they go, a visible reminder of the wrong they have done her.


When a chance meeting acquaints Linnett with the renowned detective Hercule Poirot (Suchet), she demands that he come to her aid and put an end to Jacqueline's stalking. Touched and saddened by Jacqueline's obsession, Poirot brushes Linnett off. But despite his unwillingness to get involved, he soon ends up on the same Nile cruiser with the lovers' triangle. They are joined by a varied group of fellow travellers, from the aging sex novelist Salome Otterbourne (Frances de la Tour) and her jaded daughter, Rosalie (Zoe Telford), to a handsome but obnoxious communist (Alastair Mackenzie), a devoted mother and son, a German doctor, and Linnett's financial agent (David Soul). Poirot is also reunited with an old friend, Colonel Race (James Fox), whose authority comes in handy when Linnett is found murdered in her bed.


All the signs - including a bloody message left by the dying Linnett herself—seem to point to Jacqueline. But she has the best of alibis, having been busy wounding Simon with her pistol at the crucial time, in the presence of appalled witnesses. Fortunately for the rest of the passengers, Poirot takes on the investigation and sets out to discover who else wanted the lovely Linnett dead - and why”


- The Karnak - 



Hercule Poirot - “the little grey cells” are on Holiday in Egypt and cruising down the Nile on board the steamer Karnak.


Jacqueline de Bellefort - Simon Doyle’s ex fiancée and an old friend of Linnet. Comes from a rich family but the family fortune has declined since the Wall Street Crash in 1929.


Simon Doyle - Linnet’s husband and previous engaged to Jacqueline, who originally introduced him to Linnet, persuading her to employ him as her land agent at a time where he was out of job and broked. 
Linnett Ridgeway-Doyle - one of the richest women in England. Spoiled, arrogant and used to get what she wants.


Louise Bourget - Linnet’s French maid. Chronically moody ever since Linnet refused to stand bail for her jailed boyfriend.


Colonel Race - an old friend of Poirot. To Poirot’s delight Colonel Race unexpectedly shows up in the middle of the desert and becomes a useful ally in his investigation on board the steamer.


Andrew Pennington - Linnet’s shady American lawyer and trustee in financial matters. He seems to just bump into her by coincidence, but funnily enough happens to have important papers for her to sign.


Salome Otterbourne - a drinking, flirtatious and liberated writer of risqué romantic novels, travelling with her cynical daughter Rosalie.


Cornelia Robson - a wide-eyed young American travelling with her dominating, demanding and snobbish aunt Miss van Schuyler.


Tim Allerton - Joanna’s cousin, a friend of Linnet. Travelling with his mother, Mrs. Allerton, with whom he is deeply attached to.


Mr Ferguson - a Marxist aristocrat. Has an eye for Cornelia who on the other hand finds him very annoying.


Dr Bessner - a doctor with a German accent but according to Poirot is an Austrian. Has an eye for Cornelia.


Joanna Southwood - Tim’s cousin and a friend of Linnet. Plays a part in a subplot, but only appears in the beginning of the episode. 


The young - and rich - couple, Linnet and Simon on their honeymoon…






Mrs Allerton and her son, Tim, are sitting at a table in the Cataract Hotel in Aswan, when Mrs Allerton spots Poirot coming down the stairs.

Mrs Allerton: “Isn’t that Hercule Poirot?”

Tim Allerton: “Do you mean that dwarfish-looking creature mincing down the stairs…?”

Jacqueline becomes revengeful when Linnet snatches her fiancée. When a revolver falls out her handkerchief during a conversation with Poirot, she confides to him that she has an urge to kill Linnet.

Jacqueline: “She has taken everything from me, Monsieur Poirot, and I want to hurt her… To put my gun against her head and gently pull the trigger.”


Jacqueline holding a gun against - not Linnet - but Simon...
Linnet and Simon are being hounded by Jacqueline, and Linnet asks Poirot for his assistance, but he declines, saying that Jacqueline has the right to react the way she does.

Linnet: “Couldn’t you at least try to reason with her?”

Poirot: “Madame, I’m on holiday!”

Linnet: “I’m sure that we can come to some kind of an arrangement.”

Poirot: “No, Madame, I am sure we could not.”


An orchestra is playing in the hotel and Mrs Otterbourne invites Poirot to a dance.

Mrs Otterbourne: “I was wondering if you’d like to trip the light fantastic avec moi?”

Poirot: “Trip?”

Mrs. Otterbourne: “I know it’s the other way around… but after all, we are - liberated now… “

Trip… ? Liberated…? The little grey cells are working overtime to figure out what on earth Mrs Otterbourne is talking about…


Mrs Otterbourne tells about a novel she’s working on while dancing with Poirot.
Mrs Otterbourne: “No doubt it will cause another furore, but no matter, I speak the truth. Why is everyone so afraid of sex!”

The passionate Mrs Otterbourne three inches from crawling inside Poirot...

While getting some fresh air Poirot meets Rosalie Otterbourne outside the hotel. Rosalie envies Linnet for her money and beauty and says to Poirot that life isn’t fair. 

Poirot: “Has life been unfair to you, Mademoiselle?”

Rosalie: “You’ve met my mother!”

Ferguson takes certain things for granted and furthermore lacks experience in romancing and courting the opposite sex. In the middle of a heavy discussion with Cornelia on deck he suddenly asks: “Will you marry me?”
Cornelia:” What!”

Ferguson: ”It goes against all my principles, I know, but I really think you should, so how about it?”

Cornelia: “It’s a disgusting idea!

”Ferguson: “Is that a no?”

Cornelia: “You are opinionated, unreliable, scrubby, unpleasant and utterly, utterly irritating!”

Ferguson: “But apart from that?”


Poirot very seldom speaks about his deeper feelings when it comes to his own life, but this episode is one of the rare exceptions. When talking with Jacqueline at an evening scene on board the steamer he reveals some of his most inner thoughts and reflections on the loss in his life.

Poirot: "Love is not everything..."

Jacqueline: "Oh, but it is! It is! You must know that, Monsieur Poirot... Surely you understand... “

Poirot: "It is terrible, Mademoiselle...  All that I have missed in life... "
See screenshots from that scene in Poirot & Me 6
Linnet is getting bored while looking at sphinxes at the temple of Hathor.

Linnet: “What were they actually for!” 

Simon: “Never really thought about it. Perhaps they were their equivalent of garden gnomes.”


Mrs Otterbourne reveals the dramatic sense of a literary mind when she initiates Poirot and Colonel Race in her thoughts on who killed Linnet and why…

Mrs Otterbourne: “A crime passionelle, wouldn’t you say, Monsieur Poirot? That girl, Jacqueline - half Latin, you know… creeping along the deck, pistol at full cock. Or Mr Doyle, deranged by desire - lust pumping through his veins...! Or perhaps Miss Robson, the repressed virgin... tragically plain, driven to destruction by the proximity of honeymoon passion?”


Mrs Otterbourne’s vivid and dramatic description of a ‘crime passionelle’...

- seems to stupefy Poirot and Colonel Race...






Scriptwriter Kevin Elyot put in a line in the conversation between Poirot and Jacqueline on board the steamer that originally comes from a conversation between Sally Legge and Poirot on marital matters in the Christie novel Dead Man’s Folly. Sally states that Poirot must be delighted to be a carefree bachelor and he denies by saying: “No, no, Madame, it's terrible all that I have missed in life." (Thanks for pointing that out, Diana!)


When asked to play Poirot in Death on the Nile, Suchet felt honoured but also terrified at the thoughts of doing a remake of the great Ustinov-film version from 1978, fearing that he would not equal Ustinov. When the fear got too much, he overcame it by telling himself: “Just do what you do and don’t worry about it”.


The episode was filmed almost entirely in Egypt, but according to Imdb some parts were also filmed in London in Eltham Palace, known to some viewers as a location in the TV drama Maxwell as well as in some other Poirot episodes. Suchet also made a recorded audio tour for Eltham Palace in 2007 for visitors on the spot.

Suchet is associate producer on the episode which happens to be one of his own favourites (see Poirot & Me 5). While shooting in Egypt he also spent time on taking photos depicting life "behind scenes". Some of them were published in Mail on Sunday 21 March 2004 together with an interview in which Suchet told that he wanted to use the photos for a book he was putting together about his many years of playing Poirot. 
The Karnak (actually it's called SS Sudan) is the very same Karnak Ustinov once sat foot on, and it’s still in use for river cruising with all cabins lined up. The cast didn’t actually sleep on board while filming, though, but went ashore to hotels in Cairo or Luxor after each day of shooting. 


The old Cataract Hotel in Aswan in modern days picture. It opened in 1899 and is regarded one of Egypt’s most elegant and luxurious hotels.

Some differences between the novel and the TV adaptation
Jim Fanthorp, who works for Linnet’s solicitors in England and is sent to Egypt to spy on Pennington, doesn’t appear in the TV adaptation, neither does Mr Richetti, a terrorist being hunted by Colonel Race. Also Miss Bowers, a nurse accompanying Miss van Schuyler, is left out.


In the novel Linnet’s maid, Louise, is engaged to a man who turns out to be already married. He turns up at the steamer and is the chief murder suspect for a while.


The romantic pairing of Tim Allerton and Rosalie Otterbourne is left out in the episode. When Rosalie shows interest of Tim in the TV adaptation, he tells her, she’s “barking up the wrong tree”.



More screenshots from the episode
Behind the scenes documentary 
The era

A Nile Cruise + Class and Money 



Other adaptations of the novel



Agatha Christie adapted the novel into a stage play under the titles of Hidden Horizon and Murder on the Nile. It premiered at the Dundee Repertory Theatre in 1944 (Hidden Horizon) and opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End in 1946 (Murder on the Nile). It was also produced for the US stage at the Plymouth Theatre in New York in 1946 (Hidden Horizon) - but only had a brief run before it closed.


Poirot doesn’t appear in the play - by that time Christie had gotten so tired of her little Belgian detective that she wrote him out.  




John Guillermin directed a popular and highly successful film version in 1978 with famous Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot and an all-star cast (Mia Farrow, Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Jack Warden) as well as with an unforgettable musical score by Nino Rota. The film earned Peter Ustinov an Evening Standard Award for best actor and John Guillermin one for best film, and Angela Lansbury a US National Board of Review for best supporting actress. The film was also rewarded with an Oscar (Academy Award) and a BAFTA for best costume.




BBC Radio 4 adapted the novel into a five part serial in 1997 with John Moffatt as Poirot.




There are several audiobook editions out there - to get the Suchet versions check with the Audiobook section in here



PC Game and comic strips

Flood Light Games adapted the story into a PC Game in 2007 and also in 2007 Francois Rivière adapted the novel for a comic strip edition released by HarperCollins



Linnet’s string of pearls plays a subplot in the episode - but are they genuine? 



May 2008 © All rights reserved
With thanks to Diana for helping me out with a couple of screenshots