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.
The 67-year-old, 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.
The actor insisted he would be happy to see someone else take up the mantle of Hercule Poirot following his retirement from the role.
Suchet told the Radio Times that crime writer Christie's family ordered him not to portray 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'.
"That was a very strict order I was given, and when I started reading the novels, I realised exactly what they were saying, because he's not just a figure of fun. He could never be with that brain."