When it comes to casting an Agatha Christie drama, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t expect comedian David Walliams to nab the lead. However, in BBC One’s Partners In Crime, that’s exactly what has happened.
Starring alongside David is the delightful Jessica Raine (Call The Midwife), and together they play married couple Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, in an utterly charming six-part Agatha Christie series, that’s perfect for Sunday evenings.
Of course, I love telly, but there are a few genres that for one reason or another I just can’t stomach, and period dramas is one of them. Not all period dramas of course, there are the odd ones that I do watch and enjoy, Mr Selfridge for example I think is great, Downton Abbey not so much.
So I’ll be honest, when I first heard about a new Agatha Christie series for BBC One, the fact I’m not period dramas biggest fan and have never read or watched any Agatha Christie, meant I was less than interested.
However when I learnt that Walliams and Raine had been cast, watching Walliams, who I’m a big fan off, take on a dramatic role, was something really appealed to me, and for that reason I gave Partners In Crime and don’t regret my decision.
So if like me, you usually give period dramas the wide birth, please do what I did, and give Partners In Crime a go, you won’t be disappointed.
The series is split into two three-part Agatha Christie adventures, the first three episodes are based on The Secret Adversary, and the final three on N or M?
Set in 1950s Britain, a Britain that’s rising from the ashes of the Blitz, and into the grip of a new Cold War, Partners In Crime has a great sense of adventure and the story keeps the viewer hooked from the word go and right through to the very end.
Tommy and Tuppence aren’t your usual crime-busting duo, Tuppence is a woman who sees adventure round every corner, throwing herself head first into every mystery with passion and fervour, determined to get to the truth no matter what it takes, much to the dismay of her more cautious husband Tommy.
They’re a bickering married couple who we first meet in The Secret Adversary, on a train from Paris to London in 1952, with Tommy going on about his beekeeping, much to Tuppance’s annoyance.
Sitting opposite them on the train is a lady who goes by the name of Jane Finn, and is played by Camilla Marie Beeput. When Jane never returns to her seat, ever the curious type, Tuppence is convinced that “something is up with that girl” whilst Tommy is only worried about his stomach, responding with “Are there any sandwiches?”
When they return home, Tommy is back to focussing on his honey business, whilst Tuppence is still concerned about what happened to Jane Finn, so she decides to investigate, dragging Tommy with her of course.
Her investigations bring them into contact with Tommy’s uncle, and Third Floor bigwig, Major Anthony Carter. It turns out that Jane Finn was carrying a secret recording that would potentially reveal the identity of a legendary Soviet assassin, known only as Mr Brown, who they believe will strike soon in Britain.
Carter believes Brown’s cronies must have kidnapped Jane, and they can only hope she managed to hide the recording before they got to her. Of course Carter wants Tommy and Tuppence right out of it, but together they find themselves compelled to infiltrate Brown’s gang in the hopes of finding Jane Finn, the recording and foiling Brown’s next hit. And that’s where the real fun begins...
In the second episode Tommy is mistaken for a criminal mastermind, Drennan, who was dues to join Brown’s gang. Meanwhile, Tuppence is hired as a maid to Rita Vandemeyer, who has suspicious connections to Brown. As their investigations get deeper and deeper, they also get more and more dangerous.
The stakes are high for the couple to fool the people around them, but how long will they be able to keep up the act before they get rumbled? And will they ever find out what happened to Jane?
Having now seen the first two episodes, what I particularly loved about Partners In Crime was the tone and the pace of the piece. It had great light and shade, of course helped by Walliams’ performance, but you can tell that he had a great script to work with.
In the second story, N Or M?, Major Carter commandeers Tommy for a mission he must keep completely secret, even from Tuppence. There is a leak on the Third Floor and Tommy is the only man Carter can trust.
When I’d finished watching the first episode, I couldn’t wait to watch episode two. So I didn’t. Another big draw I think, is the unlikeliness of Tommy and Tuppence as spies.
Both Tommy and Tuppence are characters that you can relate to, and if like me you’re not a big fan of period drama, the way Walliams and Raine play the characters, make the story very accessible. Partners In Crime is ultimately a great series, with a fantastic script behind it.
Having mentioned earlier that David Walliams was perhaps not the obvious choice for an Agatha Christie drama, I’m pleased to say that Walliams gives a wonderful performance in Partners In Crime, and it’s refreshing to see him playing a different role. Of course there are some more light-hearted moments in Partners In Crime, and most of them do come from Tommy.
However this doesn’t mean that the funny, camp David Walliams we all know and love makes an appearance. Absolutely not. Walliams commits to the role and plays it perfectly.
My thoughts are that if time allows, in-between writing a new sketch show and being a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Walliams’ as a dramatic actor. Whether it’s more Partners In Crime, or something else, I’m sure he’ll be offered more dramatic roles following this.
I personally would love to see a second series. I think splitting the series up into two separate stories is an excellent idea. It means that the drama isn’t dragged out for the sake of it, and what you get are two high energy stories within one series. A format that could (and should) be easily repeated time and time again.