Meet the cast of Partners in Crime: The Secret Adversary

Ben Dowell runs the rule over the characters and cast of BBC1’s new Agatha Christie drama series Partners in Crime starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine as husband and wife sleuths Tommy and Tuppence Beresford


After ITV’s dominant Poirot and Miss Marple years, Agatha Christie’s less well-known detectives Tommy and Tuppence are featuring in a new BBC1 series starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine in the roles.


There are two self-contained stories over three episodes each. The first is The Secret Adversary, which updates Christie’s 1922 story to 1952 and kicks of the Cold War mystery with a chance encounter on a Paris train between the husband-and-wife sleuths and an agitated young woman who suddenly disappears.

Whilst Tommy is focussed on his fledgling honey business, Tuppence is much more concerned about this missing person, and her investigations bring them into contact with Tommy’s uncle, and Secret Service bigwig, Major Anthony Carter.

We learn that the missing woman was carrying a secret recording that will reveal the identity of a legendary Soviet assassin, known only as Mr Brown.

Things then get really interesting….

So who are the main characters in The Secret Adversary?

David Walliams (plays Tommy Beresford)

Tommy is a bit of a lost soul at the beginning of the drama, desperately trying to get a bee keeping business going. During the Second Second World War, he was hit by a catering van on his first day as a soldier so he never got to prove himself on the frontline. So when his wife Tuppence stumbles on an intriguing case of a missing woman and dastardly espionage activities it’s his chance to finally become a hero.

David Says: “Tuppence is definitely more forthright. She’s braver than Tommy, he’s more on the back-foot, but he means well. Tommy is a bit more of a klutz than Tuppence and is sometimes more of a burden. Together however, Tommy and Tuppence make a good team.”

Where have you see him before?

Where haven’t you seen him? Little Britain star, Britain’s Got Talent judge, star of the BBC comedy Big School, Walliams is one of the most successful performer/entertainers in Britain today.

Jessica Raine (plays Tuppence Beresford)

Happily married to Tommy, if a little frustrated at being a housewife, Tuppence has definitely reached a point where she feels ready to actively have an adventure rather than read about them in her beloved books. Curious, quick-witted and adventurous she often leaps before she looks.

Jessica says:  “When I read this script I was struck by what a unique and fabulous part it was for a woman. Tommy and Tuppence are a team, and there’s no sense of her playing second fiddle to her husband.  Sometimes when you play a character they can rub off on you, and I felt more adventurous and energised while being Tuppence. She is an enormous amount of fun to play.”

Where have you seen her before?

Perhaps best known for her performance as Call the Midwife’s Jenny Lee, Raine is becoming increasingly prolific and has recently been seen in Sky Arts crime drama series Fortitude and Wolf Hall, where she played Jane Boleyn.

Matthew Steer (plays Albert Pemberton)

Albert Pemberton is a friend of Tommy’s from the war, who now works as a chemistry teacher at a boy’s school with plenty of equipment and techniques at his disposal that are useful to them. He is a bubbly character with lots of enthusiasm, ideas and inventions but he’s not necessarily the guy you want in the field. Something of a young Q from Bond, he has a prosthetic (wooden) hand following a mishap while working for the bomb squad during the war.

Matthew says: “The Albert I play is very different to the original; [scriptwriter] Zinnie [Harris] had really developed and transformed him, also giving him a wooden hand, so in that respect I was free to create and go with what I felt was right. He is however a little bored of life in the classroom and wants a bigger piece of the action and is envious of Tommy and Tuppence and their adventures.”

Where have you seen him before? 

Recently appeared in British film Urban Hymn, Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, and BBC3’s sitcom Siblings.

Clarke Peters (plays Julius Hersheimmer)

Julius is a self-made man who has potentially found a way to challenge the dominance of the sugar industry by introducing a substitute called Sweeterelle. He hires Tommy and Tuppence in the first story to help find his missing cousin.

Clarke says: “I’m an actor on a mission to entertain you and take you to another world. It’s been a real gas. David and Jess are fun actors and I know their job was very difficult because they were filming every day, it was a real graft for them. But when we worked together I hoped I could bring some levity to their job and be a good supporting actor for them.”

Where have you seen him before? 

Best known for his work with celebrated US showrunner David Simon he starred as Albert “Big Chief” Lambreaux in Simon’s smoky New Orleans-set HBO drama Treme. But he is perhaps best known for playing the smart cool cop Lester Freamon in all five series of Simon’s mega hit epic The Wire, considered by some to be the finest television series ever made.

James Fleet (plays Major Anthony Carter)

Major Anthony Carter, more commonly known as Carter, or ‘Uncle’ to his nephew Tommy, is the head of the Third Floor, a secretive branch of British Military Intelligence. The Cold War is a relatively new concept, and Carter is still adapting himself to the intricacies of this new frontier in spying. Carter has a paternal relationship with his hapless nephew Tommy, and tries to protect him the best he can. It’s not always easy…

Where have you seen him before?

Perhaps most well known for his comic performances as Tom in Four Weddings and a Funeral and Hugo in The Vicar of Dibley, he has recently performed in the American series Outlander and will be seen in The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, the forthcoming BBC adaptation of Shakespeare’s history plays. 


Partners in Crime starts on BBC1 on Sunday 26th July at 9pm

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