I’ve been watching the new BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘Partners in Crime’, based on her Tommy & Tuppence books. It’s absolutely ages since I read any of the books, but I have vague memories of them being exciting in an easy-going sort of way, slightly daft perhaps but above all great fun.
What a shame, then, that the series doesn’t seem to be living up to its source material. For one thing, they seem to have completely changed Tommy’s character. I remember him as a gentle man but one whose slightly bumbling exterior hid an intelligence and inner steel. I also remember that he’d served honourably during the second World War. Somewhere along the lines this has been changed so that Tommy is now a complete idiot who keeps bees in his ample spare time, is apparently unable to hold down a professional job, and who was invalided out of the army in short order after an accident involving peeling potatoes.
A reader in the Radio Times commented on this, and the response from the writer/editor of the series was that the changes were made in collaboration with the actor playing Tommy, David Walliams (who is much better known for his comedy roles) and that they were meant to increase the ‘comedic’ aspect of the programme.
Well, forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but comedic is supposed to be funny, and this isn’t. It involves Tommy getting himself into one scrape after another and then standing around looking wooden and slightly scared, as though he’s just been chased into a corner by one of his own bees. And that goes on for minute after minute after minute, episode after episode. It isn’t funny, it’s dull.
Even Tuppence is wilder and zanier than I remember her from the books, and a little too good at riding to the rescue of her ‘damsel in distress’ husband. Which works… once… and then becomes tedious.
Why do modern screenwriters feel the need to change everything, especially with such a master of story-telling as Agatha Christie? It’s all rather baffling. And in spite of looking forward to the series, I doubt if I’ll be watching any more.