Agatha Christie's sleuths will chase, fight in BBC's new series

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 08, 2015 16:53 IST
Promotional image from BBC's new series Tommy and Tuppance starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine. (BBC)

Many would have gasped when director Guy Ritchie turned Arthur Conan Doyle's unforgettable detective into quite someone else in the 2009 film, called Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr essaying that amazingly brainy 19th century sleuth and Jude Law his sidekick Watson turned Doyle's creations into characters that traditionalists would have viewed with disgust and disbelief. Here was a Holmes who was into gun battles and wrestling as he stopped the ritual murder of a young woman in the nick of time.

A sequel by the same helmer in 2011, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, pushed Downey and Law into greater action as they probed a series of murders and terror attacks. Strangely here, Holmes was, unlike Doyle's most celebrated hero, less cerebral and more physical. Perhaps, this was keeping tuned to times -- when an action-packed Holmes would hold greater appeal than a detective who solved eerily mystifying cases largely through quick thinking and analytical skills as he sat in his smoky room in 221 Baker Street -- sometimes snorting cocaine, sometimes playing the violin.

Now Agatha Christie's gentle sleuths are also following suit by abandoning their rocking chairs for a raging lifestyle that will keep them on their feet. Hercule Poirot's grey cells and Miss Marple's knitting needles will soon give way to fistfights, electrifying chases and bloody ferocity in a new BBC serial. The first of these "rebooted" episodes will go on air later this month.

Poirot and Marple -- who have been part of a lucrative literary franchise for 32 years -- will now step aside for Christie's lesser known investigators, Tommy and Tuppence. The series will be helmed by Edward Hall, and promises to be fast and furious, the exhilaration coming out of physical bouts and chases of all kinds.

An artwork depicting Tommy and Tuppence.

Described as a mix of The Avengers and an Indian Jones adventure, the first drama, Partners in Crime, will star David Walliams as Tommy and Jessica Raine as Tuppence.

Walliams, who was the brain behind the new look Christie, told the media recently that the bad guys in the television serial would be really bad. People would be killed. There would not be that "cosiness" one had all along associated a Christie novel with.

Mathew Prichard, Christie's grandson, felt that this was the only way to keep young viewers glued to what the grand old Dame of mystery wrote and immortalised. During her days, she was extremely popular with the younger generation, and the new BBC plays will try and get the modern youth hooked to the crime and criminality which Christie plotted and planned in her head and penned through exemplary prose.

Also, as the writer's 125th birth anniversary draws closer, plans are being made for a television adaptation of her 1939 novel, And Then There Were None, as well as a big-screen one of her most renowned work, Murder on the Orient Express. Both are likely to open before Christmas.

Finally, plans are also on to recreate Miss Marple in a new avatar with a new actor. The one many of us are familiar with is Joan Hickson, who started knitting in 1984 -- going over the foxing intricacies of a crime as the cardigan took shape.

As we had said in our earlier columns, a well written story or a well thought-out plot seldom gets dated. Only that they need to be clothed in contemporary style to regain attention and interest.

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