Agatha Christie’s investigative husband and wife Tommy and Tuppence in a jolly decent period mystery
★★★½ BBC1, starts Sunday, 26 July, 9pm
FROM THE cosy era of crime novels comes this cosy drama, starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine as Agatha Christie’s sleuthing couple Tommy and Tuppence.
It’s a polished Sunday-night, 1950s piece, with lovely costumes, twee villages full of Morris Minors and a dog called Tiffin. With ITV having mined the Poirot/Marple library to exhaustion, the Beeb must be delighted to get its hands on the Agatha Christie jewels at last.
As David Walliams says: ‘In bringing these thrilling stories to the screen, it is our ambition for Tommy and Tuppence to finally take their rightful place alongside Poirot and Marple as iconic Agatha Christie characters.’
David Walliams and Jessica Raine well cast
The most popular author of all time wrote the first Tommy and Tuppence mystery in 1922, and this new screen incarnation does a good job of breathing life into the duo for a modern audience. Walliams and Raine are certainly well cast as the cack-handed Tommy – ‘pipe-and-slippers man’, according to his uncle – and the have-a-go Tuppence.
David Walliams can play ineffectual fastidiousness in his sleep, while Jessica Raine is very good as the wife who wears the trousers. Award-winning author Zinnie Harris’s adaptation has fun with the pair, giving the stories a modern feel with some delicate fruity banter between the couple, such as Tuppence in a blonde-wig disguise pricking Tommy’s buttoned-up ardour.
The Secret Adversary is the first of two three-part tales. It begins with T&T encountering a lady who vanishes on a train. They’re travelling from Paris to London when Jane Finn disappears and the passengers are ordered to change trains.
Agatha Christie celebration
Meanwhile, Tommy’s bee-keeping business is not creating much of a buzz and Tuppence orders him to tap his uncle, Major Anthony Carter (James Fleet), for a little job in MI6. However, Carter reminds Tommy that his war record consisted of him stepping in front of a catering van followed by a spell in hospital, and sends him on his way.
After Tuppence has infiltrated an illegal gambling den in a derelict building full of stock gangster types from a black and white film, the dynamic duo learn that Jane Finn was no ordinary girl and enemy assassins of the Cold War are a lot closer to home than they ever knew. Among the shady characters encountered is The Wire‘s Clarke Peters as Jane Finn’s rich father.
It’s all pleasant fun, with a lot of running about and nice vintage costumes. For viewers who like New Tricks or Poirot, this will be a delight. Those who prefer True Detective and Line of Duty will be asleep within five minutes.
This is, of course, the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie‘s birth and Partners in Crime is the first of two major dramas from BBC1 celebrating the Dame this year. Still to come is And Then There Were None with a cast including Poldark‘s Aidan Turner, Anna Maxwell Martin, Maeve Dermody, Sam Neill, Douglas Booth and Charles Dance.