In the half century that he has been an actor, national treasurer David Suchet has travelled the world, snapping photographs along the way.
But for the London-based star of stage and screen there is only one place on earth that is his spiritual bolt-hole.
Today, as his autobiography, Behind The Lens: My Life, hits bookshops, the man who played Agatha Christie’s Poirot for 25 years tells P.S: “One of my favourite places in the world is the Isle of Harris. It is my retreat, my escape. I go there whenever I can.”
Suchet first visited the Outer Hebrides a decade ago with Sheila, his wife of 44 years.
“We rent a humble little house on the island whenever we go.”
Family is at the heart of the book, dedicated to Sheila and its photographs pay subtle homage to the grandfather, Fleet Street photographer Jimmy Jarche, who inspired them.
But more importantly proceeds from its sale are being donated to the Tuberous Sclerosis Society (tuberous-sclerosis.org).
The actor – a dad of two and grandad to three little ones (aged six years to four months) – reveals his oldest grandchild has the incurable condition that causes benign tumours to form in the body.
“My dear little grandson has them on his brain and is severely affected,” he says.
“I have decided to donate the whole proceeds of this book in perpetuity to the Society whose mission is ‘to provide help for today and a cure for tomorrow.’”
The book, which he insists is about “David Suchet the man” and not the characters he has played, invites the reader to experience him through the photographs he has taken.
A dip-in, dip-out delight of short, candid chapters covering his childhood, family, faith and passions – such as his love of canal boats – it also contains entertaining revelations like his embarrassing first and only sex scene.
He smiles: “I like to consider myself a fairly open, honest person. I am not embarrassed to talk about anything and I hope that comes through.”
So are there any ambitions left for the man whose 50-year-career is being celebrated with “a huge tour” in Australia and New Zealand in the new year?
“The Falkirk Wheel,” he announces with palpable glee.
“Sheila and I lived on a canal boat. We made a wish list of various narrowboat journeys some time ago and the Falkirk Wheel is the one really want to do. We are going to do it as soon as we can.”
David Suchet Behind The Lens: My Life, Constable, £25.
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