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Actor puts a famous sleuth under his magnifying glass

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More than half a billion people follow his every move, from the meticulous eating habits and cleansing rituals, to the now-trademark rapid short-stepped walk.

David Suchet's Hercule Poirot, the fussy sleuth created by Agatha Christie, has become a television hit in 53 countries.

Ever since the original series ended in 1994, fans have been calling for more installments. This month, A&E Television debuted "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd," the first of two new feature-length Poirot films it will air. The second, "Lord Edgware Dies," is not yet scheduled.

Suchet's characterization of the Belgian private detective has brought him into millions of homes around the world, but it is stage and film work that anchor his solid career. The British actor moves easily from Shakespearean staples such as "The Merchant of Venice," "The Tempest," and "Othello" with the Royal Shakespeare Company, to more contemporary outings, including the role of George opposite Diana Rigg in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

His film credits include the recent thriller, "A Perfect Murder," as well as his introduction to the world of Poirot, the 1982 film "Evil Under the Sun," with Peter Ustinov in the title role and Suchet as Chief Inspector Japp. He is currently starring as Antonio Salieri in the Broadway revival of Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus," following successful runs in London and Los Angeles.

"Amadeus," winner of the 1981 Tony Award for Best Play, and an Oscar for Best Picture three years later, chronicles the life of the talented but jealous 18th-century Viennese court composer who felt his work being eclipsed by the young prodigy Mozart.

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