TV review: Partners in Crime, BBC One (3 stars)

TV review: Partners in Crime, BBC One

Spiffing new Agatha Christie caper starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine

For the last few decades, ITV have cornered the market when it comes to Agatha Christie. David Suchet's reign as Hercule Poirot is one of the channel's greatest achievements, adapting every single one of Christie's stories featuring the diminutive Belgian detective. Miss Marple hasn't always been so successful, with various actresses bringing the spinster sleuth (currently played by Julia McKenzie) to life. Now the BBC are getting in on the act, reviving lesser known husband and wife crime solving duo Tommy and Prudence ('Tuppence') Beresford.

Unlike most Christie adaptations, their adventures aren't self-contained. Partners in Crime features two stories (The Secret Adversary and N or M?) each consisting of three episodes. In a set up typical of many a Christie mystery, a young lady vanishes from a train. The disappearance of their travelling companion sparks the interest of Tuppence (Jessica Raine) and reluctant investigator Tommy (David Walliams) – aided and abetted by one-man retro-CSI division, Albert Pemberton (Matthew Steer) – who start following a breadcrumb trail of clues and soon find themselves neck deep in black market bookies, spies and other miscreants.

Walliams and Raine are a perfect fit for this 50s crime caper. Tuppence is the dynamic driving force and brains of the operation. The best Christie adaptations capture the writer's wit (Suchet always played Poirot with a twinkle of humour) and Walliams brings a hint of comedy to the prim and prissy Tommy, who's far more competent than it first appears. Walliams has spent so long judging Britain's Got Talent, it's easy to forget he's a decent actor with impeccable comic timing.

Partners in Crime doesn't break any new ground, but that's kind of the point. Taking us back to a world of quaint English villages, buttoned up suits and plucky derring-do, it's warm and comforting, and there's nothing like a gentle murder mystery for Sunday evening entertainment.

Partners in Crime premieres on BBC One, Sun 26 Jul


1. Agatha Rigg6 Aug 2015, 4:12pm Report

Absolutely dreadful. Totally exceeds the bounds of credibility to the point that it becomes tedious and boring rather than exciting. The level of violence is unnecessary and conflicts with the usual quaint and twee touch to Agatha Christie's good old murder mysteries.

2. Lisa So Sad22 Sep 2015, 3:14am Report

I'm so beyond sad about this series! Yes, the acting and costumes are great, BUT... this is NOT Agatha Christie! Why even put her name on it? Call the characters whatever husband-and-wife-sleuthing names you want and sell it as a period piece detective series? I can't believe I have to keep turning it off... and then after a few days of forgetfullness, try again and still groan throughout. Why? WHY? WHHHHHHYYYYYY? I was so excited for this series, it's the whole reason I've been paying for Acorn TV here in the States. Did the writers even read the original books??? I understand that they may have had problems aging the characters between The Secret Adversary & N or M, but why go so so so SO off track? Extremely disappointed about this so far... and not at all hopeful about the future episodes, not even sure if I will watch them. Can't believe I am saying that about anything Agatha Christie, but it's probably true. Ugh. (This is my first bad review about ANY series, EVER.) Sigh.

3. Maria Shavzin28 Mar 2016, 12:14am Report

The costumes might be great, but the acting is so so at best. Not that I am sure the actors could have improved on the material given. Its utter crap. The pathetic oversimplification of the snarky, bright girl makes Tuppence an unpleasant shrew, and makes you wonder if Tommy is a masochist for marrying her. There is no plot, no mystery. The Cold War makes no sense. For one thing, the Cold War was played out between Russia and the USA, not Britain. This made as much sense as the idea that the MI6 director would give the task of saving Britain and the USA to his incompetent relatives. NONE. Its a comic spy series with no funny parts, and no resemblance to Agatha Christie either.

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