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Elephants Can Remember is the first episode of series 13 of the ITV British television drama series Agatha Christie's Poirot. It was first broadcast on 9 June 2013. Besides David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, the episode also featured Zoë Wanamaker in her fifth appearance as Ariadne Oliver (she first appeared in Cards on the Table). The episode is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name and was directed by John Strickland with screenplay by Nick Dear.


Ariadne Oliver wishes to unravel the mystery behind the deaths of her goddaughter Celia's parents, who were found shot on their estate ten years prior. Mrs Oliver tries to incite Hercule Poirot to help her, but as he is busy with another case, she settles on playing the part of the amateur sleuth herself – after all, though a decade has passed since the tragedy, human memory is nearly as strong as that of elephants.

The adaptation is fairly faithful to the original story insofar as the mystery of the death of the Ravenscroft is concerned. However a major side plot has been developed in which Dr Willoughby senior is murdered. Poirot is absorbed by this case so Ariadne Oliver has to conduct the interviews of the elephants by herself.

Comparison with original novel[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

  • The adaptation is generally faithful to the novel, except in a few instances. Characters such as Mr Goby, Miss Lemon, George, Marlene Buckle (whose mother becomes Mrs Matcham's housekeeper) and ex-Chief Superintendent Spence were removed from the story (Spence's character is replaced with an original character named Beale), whilst the characters of Zélie Meauhourat and Mme Rouselle were combined.
  • The Willoughbys have a larger role in this adaptation. There is a separate storyline involving Willoughby senior who is murdered at the beginning of the episode. Willoughby Junior (here he is a friend of Poirot) calls Poirot for help. The investigation into the murder of Willoughby senior keeps Poirot occupied in the early part of the episode and hence he is not very interested in helping Ariadne Oliver in her Ravenscroft case.
  • The two storylines intersect when Desmond Burton-Cox sees Poirot and reveals that he was a patient at the Willoughby Institute. This plot element is unique to this adaptation. From here, Poirot realises that the Willoughby institute has a connection to the Ravenscrofts, and he decides to solve both mysteries.
  • There is an original character named Marie McDermott, an Irish-American girl who works as Dr Willoughby's filing clerk and turns out to be his mistress. The character is ultimately revealed to be Dorothea Jarrow's daughter, who is avenging her mother for the cruel hydrotherapy treatments she experienced at the hands of Professor Willoughby, and also for her mother's murder (as she was at Overcliffe on the day of the tragedy and overheard General Ravenscroft make his plans) by trying to kill both Celia and Desmond. Zélie spirited her away to Canada after the tragedy, and she had to wait thirteen years before she could earn enough money to travel to England and exact her revenge.
  • In keeping with the other episodes, the story is moved from thhve early 1970s to the late 1930s.


Filming Locations[]

  • Coastguard Cottages, Cuckmere Haven, Seaford, view of the Seven Sisters - clifftop walk of the Ravenscrofts
  • Barrow Hills Manor Longcross Film Studios, Chobham Ln, Longcross, Chertsey - Overcliffe
  • Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, Piccadilly, London - Ariadne's awards ceremony
  • Dean Rees House, Rutland Place, Charterhouse - Willoughby Institute
  • Charterhouse EC1M 6AN - piano recital
  • Le Cafe du Marche, Charterhouse Mews, EC1M 6DX - the "wigs" hairdresser
  • Greys Court, Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire - Julia Carstair's house
  • Dowager House, Greys Court, Rotherfield Greys, Henley-on-Thames - Mrs Matcham's house
  • Netherwylde Farm, Aldenham - Dr Willoughby's house


Promotional Videos[]

See Also[]