Posted July 11, 2013 at 10:20 am
Actor reads all 752,702 words of holy book for a 78-hour audio version
A different use for the little grey cells … David Suchet in Jerusalem recording In the Footsteps of St Paul
David Suchet has spent the past 25 years playing Hercule Poirot in ITV’s adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective stories, breaking off only to star in carefully-chosen dramas, tours and theatre productions to keep him challenged. But in the past year, as he has recorded the final episodes of the 70-part Poirot series while also starring in Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, the 67-year-old actor has pursued a passion project. He has spent 200 hours recording the entire Bible from Genesis to the Book of Revelation – 752,702 words, in his deep, melodic, unrushed voice. Publisher Hodder Stoughton says it is the first time a single British actor of stature has tackled it. The recording is now in the editing stages, for a 78-hour release next Easter.
The extent of Suchet’s commitment surfaced when In the Footsteps of St Paul, a two-part documentary he made for BBC1, won the premier prizes at the Sandford St Martin’s Trust religious programme awards in June . To accompany those Christmas programmes, for which Suchet toured the eastern Mediterranean, he recorded The Acts and Letters of St Paul, which were released without fanfare by Hodder. A further instalment of The Gospels followed at Easter. But the executive producer of the St Paul programmes, Ray Bruce, struck fertile ground when he suggested that Suchet record the entire Bible with him. The studio was just south of Tower Bridge, opposite Suchet’s home on the Thames. “He always arrived prepared, for three-hour sessions … And then he went on to perform on stage. It was the most remarkable thing I have ever done in 40 years,” said Bruce.
He is clear it was about “David Suchet’s personal journey”. The background is that St Paul is very close to the actor’s heart because he was converted to Christianity when reading a Bible in a hotel room in 1986. Suchet’s moment of epiphany came with St Paul’s epistle to the Romans, chapter eight, in which the evangelist lays out the Christian hope of salvation – ( “if God be for us, who can be against us?”). He was subsequently confirmed and has said : “I am a Christian by faith. I like to think it sees me through a great deal of my life.”
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