Partners in Crime, BBC One’s new Agatha Christie adaptation which begins this weekend, will surprise many.
Firstly, it shares more of a style with Doctor Who than Miss Marple and secondly, David Walliams switches up his usual act to become something of a Sunday evening action hero.
The six episodes will comprise of two stories, based on Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence novels that first debuted in 1922.
Okay, so we might not be talking about James Bond levels of high-octane thrills here, but the first episode packs a lot of punch and there are some genuine scares.
Set in a 1950s Britain, the series follows husband and wife duo Tommy and Tuppence Beresford as they stumble upon a global danger much bigger than their quiet little life in the country. What follows is a whirlwind adventure across the continent where tensions are high with the oncoming Cold War.
The first episode airs at 9pm on Sunday 26 July on BBC One.
Here are 10 things we learned after talking to David Walliams at the show‘s recent press launch in London…
David Walliams, who also executive produced the series, has been a lifelong fan of the books
“I’ve been a fan of Agatha Christie since I saw the movie of Murder on the Orient Express when I was around 8 years old. I didn’t see the twist coming and I was really quite haunted by it for a long time afterwards.
“I’ve read a lot of her work and these characters had a TV series in the 80’s but in recent times there hasn’t been many adaptations.”
Unlike other detectives, Tommy & Tuppence are just ‘normal people’
“I really liked the appeal of a husband and wife detective duo, because I don’t think there had been one since Hart to Hart and I thought there was something really delicious at the centre of it.
“So you’d have Agatha Christie’s brilliant plot and adventures but at the centre of it you have a humour story and these are characters that are not geniuses in a way that a lot of TV detectives are, like Sherlock Holmes and Poirot – these people are normal people put in that situation.”
Tuppence (Jessica Raine) wears the trousers
“I like that he has to defer to Tuppence. I think viewers will recognise that and I think it will have appeal because the woman is in charge and she’s more intelligent and heroic than he is.”
It took a while to find the balance of humour and murder
“We wanted it to be playful and not too heavy. One of the things that’s interesting is that people are killed, but people [in the show] are not often that sad about it.
“It shouldn’t be too heavy I don’t think and it’s the perfect Sunday night television programme and you do want the mix of humour. You want the great characters, the humour and great mysteries.”
The novel, ‘The Secret Adversary’, is set in 1919; but the TV series all takes place in the ’50s
“The first story is an espionage thriller and was originally written in 1921, the starting point of the novel is the sinking of the Lusitania and we thought quite a good mirror to that would be the early ’50s and the start of the Cold War.
“We thought there was an interesting parallel threat in the 50s which was the start of the Cold War and again there was a fear of Soviet Russia.”
David had to tone down his comedic instincts
“I get threatened with my life a few times and that all had to be as real as possible. I didn’t want to play it like I was sort of winking to the audience or anything.
“I wanted to enjoy the comic parts but they should come from the character and from a place of truth and then the drama when the heavies are threatening me, the audience have to believe that too so I had to keep that in mind the whole time.”
There’s humour but it isn’t a parody
“We didn’t want to be pastiching the Christie world. So the bad guys really had to be bad and people really do get killed, but there’s some humour within the relationship of married people trying to go on this adventure together.
“So we had to make some decisions early on so that we weren’t going down the route of parodying Agatha Christie, which would’ve been quite painful.”
Walliams is keen to rival David Suchet’s run as Poirot
“The thing is that there’s actually only five Tommy & Tuppence novels so we are going to have to invent a lot more but yes, certainly David Suchet has created an incredible legacy, hasn’t he? If people still want to see them in 25 years then I think it would be wonderful.”
Fans flocked to the set when filming on location
“We were filming in Cromer in Norfolk and we had an audience. Basically everyone who lived in Cromer came to watch us film. It was actually quite strange and quite surreal.
“I’m very big in Cromer! It was fun being away from home and when you’re on set like that because it was the talk of the town at that point.”
Unfortunately those fans did not include London’s taxi drivers
“We had to film a stunt outside The Ritz. We filmed it at around 6am on a Sunday morning and we had to stop the traffic for about a minute but there was still loads of angry cabbies blasting their horns. But it was 6am!
“There was nobody in the back! But the stunts were a lot of fun because I’ve always loved James Bond films and action but I’ve never been in anything like that.”
Are you looking forward to Partners in Crime? Let us know below…