Partners in Crime – The Secret Adversary episode 1

According to Mediatel, 6.5 million people watched the first episode of Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime last night, making it the number one show in the UK.

The first episode was a fairly loose adaptation of The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie’s 1922 thriller in which two Bright Young Things pursue a foreign agent. In the book the characters Tommy and Tuppence meet up, agree to form a company called the Young Adventurers, and fall in love in the course of their adventures.

In the show they are older, already an established married couple. David Walliams’ Tommy is a hapless pipe-and-slippers man who was invalided out of the war after being hit by a catering truck on his first day (it was going fast, in his defence). He is now trying his luck at bee-keeping but failing to keep up with the school fees for his son George.

Jessica Raines as Tuppence is slightly bored, obsessed with crime fiction, and looking for adventure. The references to the many other crime writers in the books have been trimmed down to John Buchan, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers. Note Tuppence reading the Gollancz first edition of Strong Poison in the image below – although surely it should be yellow?


The story is updated to a 1950s Cold War espionage scenario, but retains some of the characters of the novel (although Albert, the lift-boy-turned-assistant in the books, has morphed into a one-armed chemistry teacher who supplies technical support). The story was pretty shallow, but the books are far from deep. The production values were very glossy, Walliams managed not to camp it up too much, and Raine makes a good Tuppence. We’re tuning in again next week chez Past Offences.

See also: Partners in Crime

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
This entry was posted in Agatha Christie, Classic mystery book review, Espionage, Partners in Crime, Suspense, TV, Witness Statements and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Partners in Crime – The Secret Adversary episode 1

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Glad you found it worth the watch, Rich. I admit to be an annoyingly cranky purist, so the changes they’ve made…well, not sure about them. Still, glad it worked for you.


  2. Clarissa Draper says:

    Awesome review!


  3. MarinaSofia says:

    I wasn’t very impressed (so far) with the adaptation. The relationship between Tommy and Tuppence, which was a delightful Beatrice and Benedick kind of sparring of wits in the books, is the annoying snapping at each other of long-married couples. But we’ll see if it settles down into something more fun.


  4. heavenali says:

    I thought it OK. But to be honest I was irritated by the fifties setting and the older Tommy and Tuppence. I though Walliams was too old and bumbling. I liked Jessica Raines though and despite my irritation I will be watching episode two.


  5. roddycam says:

    I thought it was pretty disappointing, lacking pace and wit. It would have been better as a single two-hour film.


  6. Anonymous says:

    David Walliams playing David Walliams again.


    • pastoffences says:

      To be fair I thought he’d toned himself down a lot. Personally I find him quite grating when he plays ‘himself’ (which I assume is a massively exaggerated version of the real David Walliams), but he was better in this.


  7. FictionFan says:

    I’m afraid I could only take 15 minutes of it. Why call it an adaptation if they’re going to chnage everything but the names? Another golden opportunity wasted.


  8. Saw the first sixty seconds and gave up, which is pretty fast even by my exacting standards! Mind you, will try again when I am in a more forgiving mood! Do you think that Gollancz cover was yellow but got solarised?


  9. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    After reading your review, and the comments here and elsewhere I know i am going to have to pass on these partners in crime!


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