Agatha Christie's Poirot

Season 1 Episode 7

Problem at Sea

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Feb 19, 1989 on ITV
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Episode Summary

Problem at Sea
Poirot and Hastings are on board a ship steaming towards Alexandria, in Egypt. Poirot recovers from his usual sea-sickness to take an interest in some fellow-passengers, especially the Clappertons. The rich Mrs Clapperton is offensively rude to lesser mortals, while Colonel Clapperton is rumoured to be not a real colonel at all, but a retired music-hall performer. On arrival at Alexandria, Mrs Clapperton is found murdered in her cabin, and Poirot finds (as usual) quite a number of suspects.moreless

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  • Location All Wrong

    It's unfortunate they chose (apparently) Greece to film this episode. I suppose they had just finished "Triangle At Rhodes" and economics dictated they use the same area for "Problem At Sea"; I have little doubt it was also filmed at Rhodes. The island has been been conquered and ruled by Greeks, Romans, Ptolemaics, Persians, Italians, and various Muslims, the latter providing some of the buildings seen in this episode. I lived in Alexandria for four years, and my wife was born there. Immediately she said to me "That is not Alex", and it was obvious to me too. None of the buildings were familiar. You won't see any mountains in the background there, as there were in one scene, particularly across a body of water (Turkey and Greece are due north, hundreds of miles away); the land is extremely flat. I never saw any man there wearing a red "fez" (hat); there were virtually no men with beards in the episode, yet probably 80% of men in Alex have beards; my wife lived there for over 30 years and never saw a single camel! The only camels I ever saw in Egypt were in Giza, at the pyramids, purely for tourists. (You won't find a camel carved into any hieroglyph On the other hand there are donkeys everywhere, yet not even one appeared in this episode. So for those who thought they were seeing Egypt, sadly it wasn't really even close.moreless
  • Delightfully silly episode with all the best bits of Poirot.

    A supposedly luxury cruise (on what looks like a VERY small ship!) - a motley crew of characters and an 'impossible' murder - what more could you want? The victim is that ususal creature, the really nasty husband-bashing wife, who hasn't a good word to say about anyone and isn't slow at coming forward with a sarcastic comment.

    True, it's not that difficult to work out the whodunnit element, but the supporting characters - and the sight of Captain Hastings on a stuffed camel for a photograph - make it well worth a watch.

    The two 'misses' are fun too, and the elderly lady practising and performing her aria (you might want to turn down the volume at this bit!) The denoument is classic, and David Suchet obviously enjoys himself immensely.

    On a minor point - I'm not sure about when this story came in Agatha Christie's Poirot career, but one of the main character traits of Poirot is he's afraid of the water and won't sail on the sea, so I'm not sure how he's managing a cruise!moreless
Sheila Allen

Sheila Allen

Mrs Clapperton

Guest Star

Ben Aris

Ben Aris

Captain Fowler

Guest Star

Geoffrey Beevers

Geoffrey Beevers

Mr Tolliver

Guest Star

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


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  • NOTES (1)

    • This episode is based on Agatha Christie's short story Problem at Sea, which is part of a collection called The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories (1939).

      The story was first published in This Week in January, 1936. It also appeared in The Strand magazine a few weeks later under the title Poirot and the Crime in Cabin 66.