8 JANUARY 2009

There are not many who can claim the right to drive sheep over London Bridge and carry a naked sword in public in the capital. But David Suchet can now count himself among the elite band permitted to do so after being given the freedom of the City of London on Wednesday.

The honour, which dates back to the 13th century, was bestowed on the Poirot star at a ceremony in the Guildhall. During the presentation David had to promise to lead an honourable life and warn the mayor of any impending danger.

"We are absolutely thrilled to bits. What is wonderful is that I feel part of a 13th century City of London tradition," said the 62-year-old, who opens in the Kevin Spacey-directed play Complicit at the Old Vic later this month.

"Being a Londoner, born in Paddington, I'm just so proud. And it makes me feel I really belong."

During the special day, shared with his wife of more than 30 years, Sheila, the star also revealed he will be stepping into his most famous character's patent leather shoes again in March. He says he hopes to play Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot through to the last book.

"We are filming four episodes this year, which will leave six more to do and that will be the complete works," he explains. "I feel two emotions, great sadness to leave him - 700 million people watch it throughout the world - but also terrific joy if I am given the opportunity to do the complete works."

Photo: Getty Images
The London-born actor shows off his freeman of the city honour
Photo: Getty Images
David, pictured with wife Sheila, now has the right to drive livestock across London Bridge and carry a naked sword in public, perks which David joked he will take advantage of next New Year's Eve