Tommy and Tuppence

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Illustration by Arthur Ferrier of Tommy and Tuppence from the December 1923 issue of The Grand Magazine and the first-known image of the characters (See Partners in Crime)

Tommy and Tuppence are two fictional detectives, recurring characters in the work of Agatha Christie. Their full names are Thomas Beresford and Prudence Beresford (née Cowley). The first time Tommy and Tuppence appeared in a Christie novel was in The Secret Adversary (1922). They started out their life as accidental blackmailers[1] (all in search of adventure and money), but the detecting life soon proved more profitable and much more exciting.

Detectives[edit]

Tommy and Tuppence appear together in four full-length novels and one collection of short stories [2] The collection of short stories is Partners in Crime, (1929, each story reminiscent of another writer's work); the four novels are The Secret Adversary (1922),[3] N or M? (1941), By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968); and Postern of Fate (1973).[4] Postern of Fate was the last novel Christie ever wrote, although not the last to be published.

Tuppence appears as a charismatic, impulsive and intuitive person, while Tommy is less imaginative, and less likely to be diverted from the truth (as their first adversary sums him up "he is not clever, but it is hard to blind his eyes to the facts"). They therefore make a good team. It is in this first book The Secret Adversary that they meet up after the war,[5] and come to realise that, although they have been friends for most of their lives, they have now fallen in love with each other.

Unlike many other recurring detective characters, including the better known Christie detectives, Tommy and Tuppence aged in time with the real world, being in their early twenties in The Secret Adversary[6] and in their seventies in Postern of Fate. In their early appearances, they are portrayed as typical upper middle class "bright young things" of the 1920s,[7] and the stories and settings have a more pronounced period-specific flavour than the stories featuring the better known Christie characters. As they age, they're revealed to have raised three children – twins Deborah and Derek and an adopted daughter, Betty. Throughout the series they employ a man named Albert, who first appears as a lift boy who helps them in The Secret Adversary, and in Partners in Crime becomes their hapless assistant at a private detective agency; by Postern of Fate he's their butler and has been married and widowed. In Postern of Fate they also have a small dog named Hannibal.

Screen adaptations[edit]

The Tommy and Tuppence characters have been portrayed on television by James Warwick and Francesca Annis, first in the feature-length The Secret Adversary (1982), and then in the 10-episode hour-long series Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime (1983).

The novel By the Pricking of My Thumbs was adapted in 2005 by the French director Pascal Thomas with the title Mon petit doigt m'a dit.... The movie casts André Dussolier as Tommy (renamed Bélisaire) and Catherine Frot as Prudence Beresford. The action is transposed to Savoie in France. A second movie, Le crime est notre affaire, came out in 2008. Le crime est notre affaire is named after Partners in Crime and stars the Beresfords, but its story is based on 4.50 From Paddington, which was originally a novel starring Miss Marple. A third film Associés contre le crime is very, very loosely based (to the point of being unrecognisable) on one of the stories in Partners in Crime.

An adaptation of By the Pricking of My Thumbs appeared in 2006 as an episode of the Granada television series Marple even though Christie did not write Marple into the original story. In this version, Tommy and Tuppence were played by Anthony Andrews and Greta Scacchi respectively, but, unlike in the book, Miss Marple and Tuppence play the detective roles while Tommy is away on intelligence (MI6) business.

BBC television is to film six adaptations during 2014 set in the 1950s starring David Walliams as Tommy. As of March Tuppence has not been cast.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ '[Whittington asks] "Blackmail, eh?" / Tuppence smiled sweetly' – Chapter 2, "The Secret Adversary"
  2. ^ agathachristie tommy-and-tuppence
  3. ^ The Secret Adversary
  4. ^ Postern of Fate
  5. ^ agathachristie tommy-and-tuppence
  6. ^ The Secret Adversary
  7. ^ Tommy and Tuppence
  8. ^ BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26366447 retrieved 15 March 2014

External links[edit]