Partners in Crime

‘You read too many detective novels,’ Tommy Beresford (David Walliams) told his wife Tuppence (Jessica Raine) at the start of Partners in Crime, as she fretted – with good reason, as it turned out – that someone has just been murdered on the Paris to Londres Express.

Lots of people read detective novels, of course – which is why Agatha Christie has sold two billion of them. The Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries, written in the 20s and 40s but here transplanted to the 1950s, are among Christie’s lesser-known works, possibly because the idea of married sleuths robs the partnership of sexual chemistry. (Note to my wife: this is a joke.)

Tuppence has a nose for trouble. ‘A Soviet assassin, a missing girl, a communist plot!’ she gushed excitedly. Tommy, by contrast, is a ‘pipe and slippers man’ who was invalided out of the war after being run over by a catering van. A reluctant hero, he has found himself drawn into a sticky Cold War conspiracy through a combination of his wife’s reckless curiosity and – it has to be said – a rather obvious trail of clues laid by Christie.

Don’t write in, I know she’s our greatest crime writer, but the ease with which Tuppence stumbled into the thick of the plot – a scribbled address here, an incriminating document poking out of the floorboards there – made Cluedo look like an exercise in gritty realism.

As drama, Partners in Crime is gossamer thin, but the costumes and period trappings are suitably ravishing – Tuppence sports a feather in her cap that could bring down low-flying aircraft – and Walliams and Raine are as agreeable a pair of accidental gumshoes as you could hope to meet. I’m also rather fond of their tech support guy, Albert: a boffin inventor with a mechanical hand and a suitcase full of gadgets, he’s basically Q in a tank-top.

Walliams, who also produces, has said he wants people to focus on the story, not just the curtains. That may be a vain hope, as this is very much style over substance. But, as is often the case with Christie, while you may not care much whodunnit, you’ll be jolly glad someone did.

 

TV extra:

 

Hello Campers

Readers, I have stared into the face of ITV Daytime, and it burns. In Happy Campers, five couples pitch their tents on the continent before competing in various sub-Generation Game challenges – tying knots, throwing pots, etc – in a bid to win a life-changing one thousand pounds. It’s quite possibly the most low-rent thing ever seen on a mainstream TV channel. What’s worse, this week’s Marbella episodes failed even to deliver a welcome blast of Mediterranean sunshine, being filmed on a patch of grey scrubland that could just as easily have been Nuneaton.

 

The Nation’s Favourite 80s Number 1 

You might not have thought we needed an ‘exclusive poll’ to tell us the nation’s favourite number one of the 80s, as we’ve already got the sales figures (it was Band Aid, obviously). In fact, this package of clips and well-rehearsed anecdotes was an interesting demonstration of how attitudes have shifted over time, as the winner – The Police’s Every Breath You Take – wasn’t even among the 100 biggest-selling singles of the decade, while Geldof and co didn’t make the cut here at all. Well I think it’s interesting, anyway. Great tunes, too.

 

Published in Waitrose Weekend, July 30, 2015

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