Poirot star David Suchet has revealed that Agatha Christie's family warned him not to play the Belgian detective as a joke when he was first approached about the role.
Suchet, 67, who signed up to play the much-loved character 25 years ago, has filmed his final scenes as the mustachioed sleuth and Curtain: Poirot's Last Case will be broadcast on ITV later this year.
Suchet told the Radio Times that crime writer Christie's family ordered him not to portray Hercule Poirot as a figure of fun.
He said: "In the books, as opposed to some of the films that have been made, he is not a comic character.
"I was told by Agatha Christie's daughter and her husband over lunch, 'If you're going to make him a joke, then you are not going to play him; people can smile with him, but never laugh at him'.
Suchet said that "I now own him (Poirot) in a way" and that the detective was "now my character".
He said of getting into character: "As soon as the moustache goes on, I speak as him ... the voice of Poirot is kicked in by the moustache, and once the voice is there, every single thing about him slots into place."