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Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime was a 1983 Britishmarker television series based on the short stories of the same name by Agatha Christie. It was directed by John A. Davis and Tony Wharmby, and starred James Warwick and Francesca Annis in the leading roles of husband and wife sleuths Tommy and Prudence 'Tuppence' Beresford. Reece Dinsdale co-starred as Albert in all except episodes 3 and 5.

The series follows the adventures and exploits of the Beresfords, who have recently taken over the running of a detective agency based in Londonmarker, and each episode features one of the stories from the book. Among these are a quest for missing jewels, the investigation of poltergeists and a story involving poisoned chocolates.

The series followed the short stories closely with two notable exceptions: First, the detective parodies, although alluded to on occasion, were for the most part dispensed with. Secondly, the story arc of the blue Russian lettersmarker and the search for the agent known as Number 16 were also dispensed with. For this reason three chapters (The Adventure of the Sinister Stranger, Blindman's Bluff and The Man Who Was No. 16) were not adapted.

The series' original run was immediately preceded by transmission on 9 October 1983 of the same production team's adaptation of Christie's second novel The Secret Adversary, which also starred Annis and Warwick in the same roles and which acted as an introduction for viewers to Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime.

The series ran for one season between 16 October 1983 and 14 January 1984 with ten episodes. It was poorly received at the time, but was later shown in the United Statesmarker, where it won an award at the 1985 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Graphic and Title Design. As of 2007, the series is regularly aired in the UK on the digital channel ITV3.

Episode Listing

The Affair of the Pink Pearl

Transmission date: 16 October 1983

Writer: David Butler

Director: Tony Wharmby

Guest cast:

William Hootkins as Hamilton Betts

Graham Crowden as Colonel Kingston-Bruce

Susannah Morley as Beatrice Kingston-Bruce

Arthur Cox as Detective Inspector Marriott

Dulcie Gray as Lady Laura Barton

Lynda La Plante as Phyllis Betts

Charles Shaughnessy as John Rennie

Fleur Chandler as Janet Smith

Ursula Mohan as Elise

Tim Woodward as Lawrence St Vincent

Noël Dyson as Mrs Kingston-Bruce

The opening episode of the series combined the first four chapters of the book (A Fairy in the Flat / A Pot of Tea and The Affair of the Pink Pearl, Parts I and II.) and followed those narratives closely. Reference was made to following the techniques of fictional detectives when Tommy plays a violin mimicking Sherlock Holmes. Dulcie Gray was advertised as the guest star.

The House of Lurking Death

Transmission date: 23 October 1983

Writer: Jonathan Hales

Director: Christopher Hodson

Guest cast:

Lynsey Baxter as Lois Hargreaves

Kim Clifford as Rose Holloway

Michael Cochrane as Captain Dennis Radcliffe

Deddie Davies as Mrs Holloway

Anita Dobson as Esther Quant

Louisa Rix as Mary Chilcott

Joan Sanderson as Rachel Logan

Granville Saxton as Dr Burton

Liz Smith as Hannah MacPherson

Whilst the narrative of the short story was followed faithfully, an extra sub-plot was added which saw Tommy accuse Rose Holloway (who was portrayed as Mrs. Holloway's daughter rather than her niece) of the murders to try and gain information from her. Also, whilst Tommy did not overtly assume the persona of M. Hanaud, he did greet Lois Hargreaves using some French phrases and words.

The Sunningdale Mystery

Transmission date: 30 October 1983

Writer: Jonathan Hales

Director: Tony Wharmby

Guest cast:

Jim Wiggins as Ticket Collector

Edwin Brown as Hollaby Senior

Terence Conoley as Major Barnard

Denis Holmes as Lecky

Denis Lill as Hollaby Junior

Emily Moore as Doris Evans

Robin Parkinson as Landlord

Dorothea Phillips as Waitress

Vivienne Ritchie as Girl

Although this episode dispensed with Tommy and Tuppence assuming the characters from Baroness Orczy's The Old Man in the Corner and also had the two leads travel down to Sunningdale themselves rather than remain in the ABC shop throughout the story, it did then remain faithful to Christie's text in that they never interacted with the main characters in the drama but recreated events and solved the mystery through the use of on-screen flashbacks.

The Clergyman's Daughter

Transmission date: 6 November 1983

Writer: Paul Annett

Director: Paul Annett

Guest cast:

Jane Booker as Monica Deane

Bill Dean as Edmund Hove

David Delve as Percival Smart & Dr O'Neill

Geoffrey Drew as Norman Partridge

Alan Jones as Gerald Rush

Elspeth MacNaughton as Bella Hove

George Malpas as Frank Mulberry

Pam St. Clement as Mrs Crockett

Ben Stevens as Cockwell

The storyline in this episode was expanded by having the character of Mrs. Crockett's nephew in the house while Tommy and Tuppence investigated Monica's case, he and his aunt overhearing the solution of the anagram being read out and then holding up the Beresford's at gunpoint when they had dug up the 'buried treasure', only for Albert to rescue them.

Finessing the King

Transmission date: 27 November 1983

Writer: Gerald Savory

Director: Christopher Hodson

Guest cast:

Benjamin Whitrow as Sir Arthur Merivale

Anna Turner as Widow

John Gillett as Dr Stoughton

Annie Lambert as Lady Merivale

Arthur Cox as Inspector Marriott

Peter Blythe as Captain Bingo Hale

Although faithful to the short stories of Finessing the King / The Gentleman Dressed in Newspaper, minor changes were made for this adaptation:
  • Tommy and Tuppence attend the Three Arts Ball dressed as Holmes and Watson, rather than the almost unknown (to modern audiences) Tommy McCarty and Dennis Riordan.
  • Sir Arthur Merivale attends the ball dressed as the devil instead of a seventeenth century executioner.
  • Bingo Hale employs Tommy and Tuppence from prison (where they interview him) to investigate the crime instead of Inspector Marriot telling the two sleuths Hale's side of the story, thus helping the story's exposition.
  • Sir Arthur pulls a gun on Tommy and Tuppence before throwing himself out of the window at the denouement of the story .

The Ambassador's Boots

Transmission date: 4 December 1983

Writer: Paul Annett

Director: Paul Annett

Guest cast:

Moira Brooker as Tilly

Michael Carter as Rodriguez

Arthur Cox as Inspector Marriott

Tricia George as Poppy St Albans

Jennie Linden as Cicely March

T. P. McKenna as Randolph Wilmot

Clive Merrison as Richards

Jo Ross as Gwen Foster

Catherine Schell as Virma La Strange

Norma West as Estelle Blaney

The narrative of the chapter was extended by having Tommy and Tuppence meet Randolph Wilmot at a US Embassy garden party where the actress Virma La Strange (who they had just solved a case for) introduced them. The story was also changed to have Wilmot's valet, Richards, part of the gang and this character commit suicide when pressured by the drug smuggling gang. At the climax of the story, Tommy is saved at the Beauty Parlour by Tuppence and three girls who she knew as a VAD's in the war instead of by Tuppence and the police.

The Man in the Mist

Transmission date: 11 December 1983

Writer: Gerald Savory

Director: Christopher Hodson

Guest cast:

Tim Brierley as James Reilly

Mark Farmer as Page Boy

Geoffrey Greenhill as Police Sergeant

Constantine Gregory as Bulger Estcourt

Christopher Johnston as P.C. Bamford

Roger Kemp as Inspector Jeavons

Valerie Lilley as Ellen

Patrick Marley as Lord Leconbury

Linda Marlowe as Gilda Glenn

Anne Stallybrass as Dorothea Honeycott

Paddy Ward as Barman

This episode was mostly faithful to the two-part chapter in the book of the same name although Bulger Estcourt's part in the plot was extended to make him another suspect of the murder, rather than just being the man who introduces Gilda Glenn to Tommy and Tuppence. In addition, the rather hurried end to the story was extended by having Tommy organise a re-enactment of the crime in which P.C. Bamford (un-named by Christie) was arrested by his own colleagues in the police force after being tipped off by Tommy who had traced his previous life as Gilda's husband of twenty years before. Tommy's fictional detective disguise of Father Brown was retained for this episode, presumably because the character was more familiar to television viewers of the 1980s than some of the others portrayed in the stories.

The Unbreakable Alibi

Transmission date: 18 December 1983

Writer: David Butler

Director Christopher Hodson

Guest cast:

Ellis Dale as Henri

Michael Jayes as Peter Le Marchant

Preston Lockwood as Head Waiter

Tim Meats as Montgomery Jones

Anna Nygh as Una & Vera Drake

Gay Soper as Hotel Receptionist

Stephen Wale as Car Park Attendant

Elaine Wells as Chamber Maid

While this episode followed the text of the short story for most of its length, it did deviate in the final quarter by adding a sub-plot that Una Drake and Peter Le Marchant were involved with a gang stealing valuable paintings to order for collectors abroad and Le Marchant dying accidentally in a tussle with Una when he refused to pay her her share of the proceeds.

The Case of the Missing Lady

Transmission date: 1 January 1984

Guest cast:

Rowena Cooper as Dr Irma Kleber

Mischa de la Motte as Manservant

Susie Fairfax as Girl in Shop

Ewan Hooper as Dr Horriston

Elspeth March as Lady Susan Clonray

Elizabeth Murray as Hermione Leigh-Gordon

Jonathan Newth as Gabriel Stavansson

Tim Pearce as Muldoon

This episode was based on the chapter of the same name and was presented in a somewhat more farcical style than the rest of the series. Changes were:
  • Tommy and Tuppence go with Gabriel Stavansson to Lady Susan's house and are there when the telegram from Hermione arrives, rather than being brought into the case after this event has occurred.
  • The part of the plot where it is realised that there are two Maldon's was dropped.
  • The part of the story that takes place in the nursing home was greatly expanded. To do this, Tuppence becomes a patient, impersonating a famous Russian ballerina called Mosgovskensky. In the short story this name is made up by Tommy on the spot as a composer whose chords he is 'playing' when he attempts the violin in front of Stavansson as part of his attempts to follow the methods of Sherlock Holmes.

The Crackler

Transmission date: 14 January 1984

Writer: Gerald Savory

Director: Christopher Hodson

Guest cast:

Carolle Rousseau as Marguerite Laidlaw

David Quilter as Major Laidlaw

Shane Rimmer as Hank Ryder

Arthur Cox as Detective Inspector Marriott

Christopher Scoular as Captain James Faulkener

Peter Godfrey as Maybrick

Lawrence Davidson as Monsieur Héroulade

Terence Hillyer as Chauffeur

Stan Pretty as Harry the Barman

The narrative of this episode was expanded by a short sequence in which Albert follows Laidlaw and Héroulade to the Ascot races to see if forged notes were changing hands. In addition, Major Laidlaw was stated to be blind and James Faulkener (a minor character in Christie's short story) was a cousin of Tommy's. The references to Edgar Wallace were not dropped for this episode, presumably because, like Sherlock Homes and Father Brown, he was more familiar to TV audiences in the 1980s than some of the other detectives and their methods as featured in the original collection.

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