Tommy and Tuppence

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Thomas Beresford & Prudence Beresford (née Cowley)
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
First appearanceThe Secret Adversary
Last appearancePostern of Fate
Created byAgatha Christie
Portrayed byRichard Attenborough & Sheila Sim (radio)
James Warwick & Francesca Annis
André Dussollier & Catherine Frot
Anthony Andrews & Greta Scacchi
David Walliams& Jessica Raine
In-universe information
OccupationSecret agents/Private detectives
FamilyDerek (son)
Deborah (daughter)
Betty (adopted daughter)

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



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") which is why they are shown to make a good team. It is in this first book The Secret Adversary that they meet up after the war,[2] 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[3] and in their seventies in Postern of Fate. In their early appearances, they are portrayed as typical young people of the 1920s,[4] 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 are 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. In Partners in Crime, Albert becomes their hapless assistant at a private detective agency; and subsequently, as a now married pub owner, renders vital assistance to the pair in N or M?.; by Postern of Fate he's their butler and has now been widowed. In Postern of Fate they also have a small dog named Hannibal.


In 1953 the BBC adapted Partners in Crime as a radio series starring Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim.[5]

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 series Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime (1983).[6]

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 Miss Marple into the original story. In this version, Tommy and Tuppence were played by Anthony Andrews and Greta Scacchi respectively,[7] but, unlike in the book, Miss Marple and Tuppence play the detective roles while Tommy is away on intelligence (MI6) business.

In 2015 BBC television aired Partners in Crime, it starred David Walliams as Tommy[8] and Jessica Raine as Tuppence.[9]


  1. ^ Crompton, Sarah (20 March 2015). "Perfect partners in crime: Tommy and Tuppence". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Tommy and Tuppence". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  3. ^ "The Secret Adversary". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Tommy And Tuppence". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim in 'PARTNERS IN CRIME'". BBC (1535): 18. 10 April 1953. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  6. ^ Lawrence, Ben (20 July 2015). "Why Tommy and Tuppence were Agatha Christie's greatest creation". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  7. ^ Smith, Neil (29 June 2015). "David Walliams on playing 'damsel in distress' in Agatha Christie drama". BBC. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Agatha Christie dramas planned to mark anniversary". BBC News. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 September 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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