Tuesday, 28 July 2015

AGATHA CHRISTIE'S PARTNERS IN CRIME (BBC ONE)

Husband and wife Tommy and Tuppence Beresford stumble into the shadowy world of espionage because of a strange encounter on a Paris train and Tuppence's curiosity. 

They're enlisted by Tommy's uncle, the head of a secretive Military Intelligence department.

« You read too many detective novels, do you know that? »

In 2014 the BBC announced that they would be the new TV home of English crime writer Agatha Christie in the UK for the 125th anniversary of her birth, thanks to a major deal with her estate. Partners in Crime is one of the first two commissions under this deal, with And Then There Were None (1). It is based on a collection of short stories written by Christie between 1922 and 1973 and featuring crime-fighting duo Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. Francesca Annis and James Warwick played the Beresfords in a 1983-1984 series for LWT. In France, André Dussollier and Catherine Frot were the sleuth couple in three movies from 2005 to 2012. Since 2009 French television airs Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie, adapted from the author's work with local detectives (2).

« The field... It's not for you. »

Partners in Crime, the six-part series launched on sunday on BBC One, is set in 1952 and stars comedian and actor David Walliams as Tommy and Jessica Raine (Call The Midwife) as Tuppence. Walliams and Hilary Strong, of the Agatha Christie Group, got the idea to bring back the Beresfords. The first three one-hour episodes are an adaptation of The Secret Adversary by Zinnie Harris. In Part One the couple is taken out of their money worries and daily routine when they embark on the trail of a missing young woman and a Soviet assassin known as "Mr Brown". They now work for Major Anthony Carter (James Fleet), Tommy's uncle and the head the Third Floor, a branch of British Military Intelligence which doesn't officially exist. Tommy and Tuppence are assisted by Albert Pemberton (Matthew Steer), a chemistry teacher and part-time agent for Carter.

« Where did you learn all this?
- John Buchan, Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers.
- Books.
- And boarding school. Dodging the housemistress. »

Partners in Crime is charming, fun and gorgeously produced. David Walliams pleasantly surprises, Jessica Raine is excellent as usual and their duo works perfectly. It's the kind of classy and entertaining drama you expect from the BBC, whose special relationship with the estate of Agatha Christie starts well. Clarke Peters and Alice Krige are amongst the guest cast of The Secret Adversary. Partners in Crime is produced by Endor Productions and Agatha Christie Productions for the BBC. It is executive  produced  by  Hilary Bevan Jones for Endor, David Walliams, Mathew Prichard and Hilary Strong for Agatha Christie Productions, and Matthew Read for the BBC. Tim Phillips composed the great score. Peter Anderson Studio designed the titles.

« Why, Mr Beresford. I do believe your pulse has quickened just a little. »

The last three episodes are adapted from N or M? by Claire Wilson. The whole series is directed by Edward Hall. Partners in Crime is distributed by All3Media.

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/then-there-were-none
(2) http://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2015/07/les-petits-meurtres-dagatha-christie.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vf6rn
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/partners-in-crime
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2014/agatha-christie.html 
http://www.electrictp.com/ (Tim Phillips)

Saturday, 25 July 2015

LES PETITS MEURTRES D'AGATHA CHRISTIE: PENSION VANILOS

[Spoiler-Free] Commissaire Laurence works in conjunction with Scotland Yard on a case of drug trafficking between England and France. He handles things more than personally. 

His secretary Marlène would like him to investigate some weird events which happened at the Pension Vanilos, a student hostel owned by her sister Solange, but Laurence doesn't care. Reporter Alice Avril agrees to infiltrate the place in exchange for information about the drug investigation.

« Il faut que je vous parle, commissaire .
- Non pas maintenant, Marlène. Vous voyez bien que j'enquête.
- Non, justement. Ca ne se voit pas. Où alors c'est une nouvelle méthode, hein? »

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("The little murders of Agatha Christie") is a French adaptation of novelist Agatha Christie's stories as a period crime comedy-drama 90-minute series focused on a trio of local sleuths instead of her detectives: Commissaire Swan Laurence (Samuel Labarthe), Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) and Marlène (Élodie Frenck). Aired yesterday on Swiss channel RTS Un, ahead of French pubcaster France 2, Pension Vanilos is adapted from the Hercule Poirot novel Hickory Dickory Dock by scriptwriter Sylvie Simon and directed by Éric Woreth. 

« Dans Solange il y a "ange". »
 
Posing as a typist student, Avril meets Solange Vanilos, the stern sister of Marlène. Soon, one of the residents of the hostel is murdered. A stakeout ends badly, a stethoscope can be deadly and Swan speaks Chinese and Turkish fluently. A killer gives the commissaire and Alice the shock of their lives. Sylvie Simon's brilliant script is a classy and elegant roller coaster of mystery and suspense with nods to Poirot (Laurence's Scotland Yard contact is Inspector Japp) and to the French radio anthology Les Maîtres du Mystère. There's also a tribute to the Edgar Wallace films and the Giallo thrillers in the form of stylish sequences by Éric Woreth and director of photography Bertrand Mouly

« Je me souviens comme tu m'as défendue quand j'ai tué ce chat. Tu as réussi à convaincre papa .
- Mais c'était un accident, le chat. Hein?
Evidemment. Tu l'adorais. »
 
Élodie Frenck, who won Best Young Actress at the La Rochelle Festival of TV fiction in 2013 for her role, is astonishing. Samuel Labarthe experiments new aspects of his character. Blandine Bellavoir has the hairdo of French singer Sheila. Pension Vanilos is simply the best entry of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie for now. Due to premiere this fall on France 2, new episodes (including adaptations of A murder is announced and The adventure of Johnnie Waverly) were recently announced with amusing promos (1) but the big budget hit series is at risk of leaving its production base of Tourcoing, in the north of France (2).

« Il a un grain c'est sûr, j'ai cru qu'il allait m'étrangler.
Il n'a peut-être pas aimé votre nouvelle coiffure. On ne peut pas lui en vouloir. » 

Blanche Cluzet, Edouard Giard, Lucile Marquis, Sandrine Salyères, Nancy Tate and Charles Templon guest star in this episode. Dominique Thomas plays Commissaire divisionnaire Tricard. Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Sophie Révil for Escazal Films with Pictanovo (Witnesses), Conseil Régional Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the participation of France Télévisions, TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. The characters of Laurence, Avril and Marlène were created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is composed by Stéphane Moucha.

« Redescendez sur Terre, Avril. Personne ne vous prendra jamais en stop avec ce... cette...
Je vous déteste. »