Archive for October, 2011

News Bulletin 47


A Preview & Guide For October 29th – November 4th, 2011.

“Can I be of assistance?”

With Anthony Horowitz’s The House of Silk being published on November 1st, it would be worth keeping an ear out for Front Row (BBC Radio 4, Monday-Friday at 7.15pm) and Open Book (BBC Radio 4, Sunday at 4pm; repeated on Thursday at 4pm).

BBC Radio Ulster’s (FM 92.7-95.4, MW1341) Book Programme (Sunday at 1.30; repeated on Thursday at 7.30) has an interview with Horowitz. You can also listen to this programme live online.

NB: Horowitz is in Belfast on November 2nd and I will be interviewing him. The interview will be posted on this site shortly afterwards.

I have also read the book and will post a review at the same time.

Saturday 29th

The Woman in Green, 1945 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 5.30pm; and Sunday 30th at 9.20am) This was the 11th in the 14 Rathbone/Bruce series and is clearly not one of the best. Moriarty—already killed off in two other films—was back, this time played by Henry Daniell (Rathbone’s favourite Moriarty, by the way). And after the success of Gale Sondergaard as Spider Woman the previous year, we have the lovely Hillary Brooke as Lydia Marlowe, the Woman in Green.

It’s a terribly convoluted plot centred on what are supposedly “the most atrocious murders since Jack the Ripper.” But it’s worth watching for the confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty: “We’ve had many encounters in the past. You hope to place me on the gallows. I tell you I will never stand upon the gallows. But, if you are instrumental in any way in bringing about my destruction, you will not be alive to enjoy your encounter.”

Sherlock Holmes v Dracula (BBC Radio 4 Extra on Freeview 708/Freesat 708/Sky 0131/Virgin 910 at 6am and 4pm) Adapted for radio by Glyn Dearman from Loren D. Estleman’s 1978 novel, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, this was first broadcast on December 19, 1981. It’s an acquired taste and very much over the top, but it’s actually a very enjoyable romp.

John Moffatt (much better known for playing Poirot in a series of BBC Radio dramatisations) is an understated Holmes, but Timothy West, as Watson, veers too much towards Nigel Bruce for my liking.

Monday 31st

SherlockHolmes and the Secret Weapon, 1943 (TCM at 11.05pm) A much more satisfying film than The Woman in Green, this is the one about the spies and the missing bombsights. Some nice work from Lionel Atwill as Moriarty (and yes, this is one of the films in which he dies!) and Dennis Hoey’s first outing as Lestrade. Henry Daniell had a very small part in this one.

Tuesday, November 1st

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939 (TCM at 5.00pm; and Wednesday 2nd at 6.50am) One of the all-time greats and I also score it over the Rathbone/Bruce Hound of the Baskervilles made a few months earlier. 20th Century-Fox had been happy to invest heavily and the production standards were very high. Rathbone and Bruce were also settling nicely into their roles—although I still have concerns about how Watson was portrayed!

George Zucco was an excellent Moriarty: “Holmes…I’m going to break you. I’m going to bring off right under your nose the most incredible crime of the century, and you’ll never suspect it until it’s too late. It’ll be the end of you, Sherlock Holmes.” To his credit, he made Holmes work for his money in this one!

Even though the film did well at the box-office, the company got cold feet and decided that Holmes was too old-fashioned and out-of-place for a world which had gone to war again. Universal Pictures stepped in, picked up the rights, updated Holmes and had him fighting the Third Reich in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror in 1942.

Wednesday 2nd

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Action/Adventure on Sky 305/HDVirgin405/Virgin 435 at 12.10 and 9.45pm) While Robert Downey Jnr gives us a Holmes we have never really seen before (and I won’t complain about that) I still think this film is let down by a lousy plot, gorgonzola script and an awful lot of hamming-it-up from a cast who should know better. Guy Ritchie doesn’t seem to have understood that Holmes is a ‘thinking machine’ first and foremost.

The Rivals (BBC Radio 4 at 11.30am. 3/4. Murder by Proxy.) This quirky little series—in which Inspector Lestrade introduces us to ‘rivals’ of Sherlock Holmes—features Paul Beck this week. Beck was the creation of Matthias McDonnell Bodkin (an Irish Nationalist MP between 1892 and 1895, as well as a barrister) and the character has been described as “the Irish Sherlock Holmes.” The first case was published in 1899 and the last in 1929.

Thursday 3rd

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview 10/Freesat 115/Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 4.00pm) Episode 2, First Series—The Dancing Men (May 1st, 1984) Always good to see the earliest episodes of this wonderful Granada series, when Jeremy Brett was at his very best as Holmes. I still prefer Edward Hardwicke as Watson, but David Burke does a very good job of re-inventing—almost rehabilitating him, in fact—the character.

Friday 4th

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 3.55pm) Episode 3, First Series—The Naval Treaty (May 8th, 1984) I think that the episodes dramatised by Jeremy Paul are amongst the best: and this is one of my favourites. Paul went on to write The Secret of Sherlock Holmes for Brett and Hardwicke in 1988, which had a very successful run in the West End.

Second Holmes (BBC Radio 4 Extra at 9.00am and 2.00am) This is the last episode of the six-part series first broadcast in January/February 1983 and starring Peter Egan as Holmes’ grandson. It’s very lightweight stuff and this episode, The Case of the Missing Link, is particularly weak.

Egan has played Holmes on a number of occasions: most recently a revival of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes in 2010 and another touring production of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 2008. He also narrated HOUN  for Talk Classics in 1994, which I happen to like very much.

Got Digital? The radio stations shown above are also available (except in Scotland 4pm-1am) on digital radio (DAB). 

Missed Anything? also




News Bulletin 46

‘I even took a pencil and jotted them down.’

Alex Kane’s Viewing & Listening Guide {22 – 28 October 2011}.

Hands of a Murderer (TV Movie, 1990) is on again on ITV3 on Saturday 22 October at 11.20pm. It’s an oddity in many respects, not least because it wastes a good cast with a terrible script/plot. That in itself is odd, because the script is by Charles Edward Pogue, who wrote TV movies Sign and Houn (both 1983) with Ian Richardson as Holmes. But there is just no logic to this one and Woodward is just far too old to be a convincing Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (Universal, 1943) is on TCM on Monday 24 October at 7.40pm. This is the one based loosely (actually, very loosely!) on Musg, but it remains one of the best of the Rathbone/Bruce series.

Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros, 2009) usually pops-up twice weekly on Sky Crime/Thriller. The latest screenings are on Tuesday 25 October at 1.05pm and later the same day at 9pm. ‘Robert Downey Jr gives a charismatic portrayal as Baker Street’s finest,’ says this week’s Radio Times (w/c 22 October).

Mark Gatiss is the castaway on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 23 October at 11.15am (repeated Friday 28 October at 9am). I’m sure there will be something about Sherlock and his own role as Mycroft. Gatiss is the co-creator of BBC 1’s hit drama Sherlock, a second series of which is due in the new year.

The second episode of The Rivals (2/4) airs on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 26 October at 11.30am. ‘The Problem of Cell 13’ again features Inspector Lestrade, who introduces the story of Professor SFX Van Dusen.

And finally, there’s Second Holmes, the 1983 comedy (starring Peter Egan as Stamford Holmes, grandson of the great man himself) which continues its rerun on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Episode 5/6, ‘The Case of the Neglected Farm’ is scheduled for Friday 28 October at 9am with a repeat the following morning at 2am.


News Bulletin 45

“Yes; it struck me as being a little out of the common.”

Horowitz Is Belfast Bound.

Author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz is coming to Belfast on the evening of 2 November 2011 to launch his new Sherlock Holmes novel, The House of Silk. Please note that the event at the Ulster Museum starts at 7pm. You’ll find further details on the No Alibis (Belfast’s specialist crime bookstore) website.

Demand is likely to be high so those interested are advised to get a ticket from No Alibis (Botanic Avenue, Belfast) as soon as possible. We aren’t scheduling a sailing for this event, more a run ashore, but do hope that our local crew will give it their active support.

You can also find out what Anthony Horowitz has to say about his new book (due 1 November) on his own website.

“Conventional – shockingly so.”

That’s what Sherlock Holmes had to say about Inspector Lestrade in A Study in Scarlet but now it appears that the Scotland Yard detective is about to get his own back for the humiliations (and there were many) he suffered at the hands of Baker Street’s finest. Played by James Fleet, Lestrade will be hooking up with four other detectives in a new 4-part series which starts on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 19 October 2011 at 11.30am.The first episode is The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe whose detective Auguste Dupin was described by Holmes as a “very inferior fellow.” There’s a small feature in the current Radio Times (w/c 15 October) on page 140 if you want more details.

Sherlock Gets The Red Card!

No gong for the BBC’s Sherlock on this occasion but find out what actually happened here.–sherlock-left-clue-that-prompted-ouster-from-emmys

Does the Hammer Hound Really Rate 5 Stars?

Every time there’s a screening of Hammer’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) starring Peter Cushing, Radio Times give it the 5 star treatment. Some of us think this is at least a star too far– indeed perhaps 3 stars might be nearer the mark. By far the better version is the BBC’s own one from the 1960s TV series, which also starred Peter Cushing. While it’s been available on DVD for some time, the Beeb keep their own copy locked in the vaults, well away from the programme schedulers’ gaze – a crying shame, we think. Anyway, for those who still want to see the cinema version, it was the first in colour of the “supreme adventure,” you’ll find it on Channel 4 on Thursday 20 October 2011 at 1.25pm (see Radio Times w/c 15 October for a very favourable review on page 52).






News Bulletin 44

“Yes, I have got it now,” he answered with his thick red finger planted halfway down the column. “Here it is. This is what began it all. You just read it for yourself, sir.” I took the paper from him and read as follows:

On Friday 11 October 1991, the Belfast Telegraph carried a small notice about Alex Kane and his love of the Sherlock Holmes stories. He was a member of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London and he was hoping to make contact with other members who lived in Northern Ireland or, failing that, to meet other people who read and enjoyed Holmes. From such a small acorn did The Crew of the S.S. May Day grow.

The S.S. May Day subsequently set sail on Saturday evening 29 February 1992. Our name comes from the reference in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, the only tale in the Sherlock Holmes Canon to mention “Belfast” or indeed “the north of Ireland.”

News Bulletin 43

“Anything else?” asked Holmes, yawning.

Second Holmes.

Second Holmes, a comedy series which was first broadcast in January 1983, and one which many of us probably  haven’t heard before, is getting another outing. This very welcome rerun commenced on Friday 30 September 2011 on BBC Radio 4 Extra at 9am (repeated the following day at 2am). If you don’t have a DAB radio  never worry, you can hear this station via your TV on Freeview/Freesat/Sky or Virgin, or on your PC via the BBC iPlayer.

Roger Johnson says that “Second Holmes is clever and elegantly witty. Peter Egan and Jeremy Nicholas did a lovely job with Grant Eustace’s scripts. It’s a shame there was just the one series!”

The plot of the first episode (1/6) ‘The Case of the Grandfather’s Client,’ involves the grandsons of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson heading to Baskerville Hall in a canine caper. If like us you missed this, it’s on the BBC iPlayer until 2.32am on Saturday 8 October 2011.


Another Gong!

The BBC’s Sherlock drama series picked up the Best New Drama Award at the TV Choice Awards 2011 held at a gala dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London on Tuesday 13 September.


SH2 Updates.

The November issue (no.186) of Total Film has a two-page spread including some new stills, on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Its sister magazine, DVD & Blu-ray Review (no.160, November) includes a one-page preview of the film. Sadly, this is the final issue of the latter magazine.