Friday, 17 July 2020

It's not a dream, it's Captain Hastings!

Yes, he's back again!!

Now that I've returned to blogging on a regular basis I feel ready to resurrect one of my favourite series of recurrent posts - the fashions and foibles of Captain Arthur Hastings, as played by Hugh Fraser in the excellent TV series Agatha Christie's Poirot.  Judging by this blog's stats page and the number of comments I've received over the years posts featuring the good Captain are well-liked by you the reader too so, by overwhelmingly popular demand, we return now to the adventures of Captain Hastings!

I covered Hastings's all too-brief appearance in The Big Four when it first aired in 2013 and although I have received requests to do Curtain next I have only just come to terms with what happened in that episode and the fact that it was the series finale(!).  More to the point I don't actually have it to hand to screencap at the moment, my Poirot DVD box set being an older edition only going up to series 10 (which is fine by me since Captain Hastings - plus Miss Lemon and Inspector Japp - don't appear after series 8 and the episodes from that point onward veer too much towards the darker end of the spectrum for my taste).  I will keep a lookout for Curtain - it is bound to be repeated on ITV3 at some point - with a view to featuring it on here later.  In the meantime we return to the early days and the next chronological episode to feature our favourite chap, which, it having been so long since I've done one of these, is the series 1 episode (so still lots more to come, hurrah!) The Dream.  Anyway, enough waffling from me - we want Hastings!

In this long shot we can just make out his splendid-looking half-belted sports
jacket and, what is that Miss Lemon's wearing?  Could it be...?
Yes, it's that ruddy bow cardigan again that started it all.  Never mind that, though,
we're here for Captain Hastings and he doesn't disappoint.  One of his best outfits
so far, in fact - a wonderful combination.  Shirt, tie, cardigan, jacket - it all works.

There's so much going on actually that one caption isn't enough to do it justice, so I'll add my thoughts to this outfit here.   I love the blue, red and cream check of the cardigan (which gets further outings in future episodes, so watch this space!), set off against the splendid colours of the striped tie and finished off by the understated grey sports jacket.  Then there's the shirt with its small, understated spearpoint collar and - a nice touch - working single cuffs with cufflinks.  In short, the archetypal 1930s look and one every right-thinking chap should - and could - aim for.  On the subject of cuffs I've encountered conflicting opinions over the years, the general consensus in my experience being that double (or French) cuffs are more formal and therefore more representative of the period, while single cuffs are more informal (except when worn starched with formal evening wear) and the preserve of country attire.  But then I see things like this - Hastings rocking the single cuffs with links - and I begin to see things in a different light.  What we're looking at here is a typical Thirties informal look, so single cuffs are perfectly acceptable especially when set off with a pair of cufflinks.  The trouble is single cuff shirts with the facility for links (as opposed to just button fastenings) can be hard to come by these days.  The only one in my wardrobe is a rather summery Bengal striped number from Peter Christian; other modern makers such as Savile Row Co. also offer the facility for cufflinks with single cuffs, otherwise you're looking at the more "period" suppliers like Darcy Clothing or Revival Vintage.  That's enough about shirt cuffs though - back to the action!

A nice close-up of the jacket, collar and tie combo.

We open the scene with Hastings helping Miss Lemon with the morning mail.  Our man is amused and intrigued by an offer of 'Home Phit' ("That's funny - 'Phit' spelt with a 'ph'".) leather shoes; sadly we never find out if he avails himself of a pair.  Miss Lemon is unamused by the antics of her typewriter - left in the flat by a previous tenant, much to the delight of the thrifty Poirot - which keeps jamming (and am I the only one who constantly mishears her annoyed and terse exclamation of "Bother!" as something rather stronger?!).

Something for the typewriter fans as well - can you identify the recalcitrant model
from this picture (all will be revealed at the end of this post)?  (Note we also get to
see Poirot's full address and telephone number courtesy of this shot.)

The next letter is from a Hugo Cornworthy, private secretary to noted industrialist and pie-maker Benedict Farley, requesting that Poirot comes to his offices so that he may consult him.  The Farley's Food factory is of course in reality the Hoover Building, which has featured on this blog before (and also in the previous episode as the "Parade" film studio - the production company must have done some back-to-back filming there, I think!  As an aside, someone once told me that all the exterior shots of Florin Court (aka Whitehaven Mansions) were done over the course of one long weekend and then simply interspersed throughout every episode, but I cannot vouch for the veracity of that.).

Even in the dark our man's style stands out like a beacon of rightness.  Hat,
belted coat with effortlessly turned-up collar and scarf - oh yes, he's back all right.
No-one pulls off the turned-up collar look better than our Captain Hastings.
The muted earth tones of the scarf set off nicely against the coat, hat and gloves.

Hastings (and Poroit, to be fair) is disappointed to be told that the invitation does not extend to him, so it's back to the car to wait for Poirot to come out.  Poor old Hastings!

Back at the flat the next morning and Miss Lemon takes Poirot to task over the troublesome typewriter, backed up by the good Captain.

A better look at that wonderful knitted waistcoat and, just for the girls, Miss
Lemon's delightful emerald green dress with contrasting asymmetric collar/cuffs
(fellow blogger Porcelina has previously looked at the other fashions in this episode). 

Needless to say it isn't long before there's a corpse to deal with but in the following days Poirot is unable to get a grip on the case, much to his frustration.  Hastings helps out by doing the crossword.

Just as Miss Lemon's bow cardigan is a wardrobe staple in early episodes, so too
is Hastings' grey Prince of Wales check suit it seems. 

When Poirot starts to lament that his little grey cells are dying due to too much "fast living" Hastings is there to (sceptically) comfort him.

Thanks to a second tisane and Miss Lemon nearly breaking her neck looking out the window to check the time Poirot has an epiphany and he and Hastings dash off to Farley's Foods to unmask the murderer.

I do love how a simple change of tie can completely reinvigorate the ubiquitous
PoW three-piece.

Poirot's theory requires Hastings' assistance in quite an exciting manner - our hero is about to swing into action!

While Poirot gathers everyone together for the classic dénouement, Hastings waits for his moment:

The green tie sets off nicely against the grey of his suit.
"The name's Hastings.  Arthur Hastings."  Seriously, why hasn't somebody in the
Poirot fanfic community done this?!  I  may have to do something about it myself...
Single cuffs with links again and a smashing rectangular Thirties wristwatch as our
hero takes aim.

Hastings really does have a lot to do in this episode.  Having so ably helped Poirot to prove his theory, the killer is unmasked and makes a bolt for it (WARNING: if you haven't seen this episode - then what's wrong with you?! - here be spoilers) but once again everyone's favourite chap is on the case.

Alas after what must have been a bruising struggle down a marble staircase, the villain escapes our man's clutches and dashes out into the factory grounds.  Kudos at this point must go to the character of  Herbert, the fiancée of Farley's daughter (Joely Richardson), who turns up on motorcycle and sidecar - suitably dressed in full flying leathers, goggles and scarf - intending to elope but who instead is just in time to chase the murderer down in dramatic fashion.  Captain Hastings would be impressed!

With the case solved it's back to business as usual at Poirot's flat.  Miss Lemon is still battling with the typer when Poirot arrives bearing a suspiciously typewriter-shaped box.

I do love Poirot's expressions in this episode.  One can never get enough of Hastings'
suit, either.  I'm beginning to understand the obsession with that bow cardigan now.
I promised you a closer look at the troublesome typewriter.  Yes, it's an Underwood,
and given its back story, the period setting and four-bar keyboard I'm going with it
being a Number 5.  Would you agree?

You'll have to watch the episode to see if Miss Lemon does finally get a new typewriter out of Poirot(!).  This has turned into quite a monster post - whew!  Well done if you've made it this far but, well, you did ask for it (and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy composing them).  For now we'll finish with a few more gratuitous shots of Captain Hastings and his superlative three-piece suit as we bid farewell to him, Poirot and Miss Lemon until the next time, when we'll return to find them in - Peril at End House.


  1. Ah, The typewriter with a few jammed keys matches the Underwood No. 5 sitting behind me. Fine typing typewriter, also.

    I'd like to watch Capt. Hastings, but I don't recall it being available on BritBox here in the States.

    Speaking of which, since I've started watching BriBox programming I seldom watch USA originated programming any longer.

  2. Oh, this is excellent entertainment! I have the Poirots on almost permanent rotation, and a bit like a goldfish, find them endlessly captivating. Always best on DVD when you can stop and soak up all the period detailing. I used to mine the episodes for decorating ideas as well. As for the story of the exterior shots of Florin Court, I'd not heard this but can well believe it's true as you do see the same snippets over again, and there is a great fondness for recycling locations as well as costumes. As to Captain Hastings, how right you are that nobody pulls off the upturned coat collar quite like him.


Don't just sit there, type something! I enjoy reading all comments.


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