Adapted from a novel of the same name, The Hippopotamus takes murder mystery tropes, keeps the mystery, substitutes murder and gives us a gloriously odious washed up poet Poirot to reckon with. Roger Allam’s Ted Wallace is pompously appealing from the first frame, lacing his cyanide dipped voiceover with luxuriant expletives, intellectual entitlement and an abundant surplus of vulgar vocabulary.
As the screen opens we are instantly greeted by the huffy Ted Wallace. Presented with a delightfully promising diegesis, Stephen Fry’s first screen adaption quickly becomes mysteriously investing. With Roger Allam - playing a disgruntled poet-turned-theatrical critic who presents a likeable, convivial charm that occasionally bursts through his bitterly and waspish personality - we are unexpectedly drawn into the situation by virtue of his realistically poignant performance.