Archive for November, 2011

News Bulletin 52

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

November 26 – December 2, 2011.

“A very remarkable note,” said Holmes, glancing over it. “A few trifling points might perhaps be added.”

SATURDAY 26

Murder by Decree, 1978 (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117/Freeview10/Freesat115 at 12.10am) I have always had a very soft spot for this film, even though it has more holes than a colander.  Christopher Plummer had previously played Holmes in a 1977 TV adaptation of Silver Blaze. To be fair, it wasn’t a vintage portrayal, largely because they tried to make him ‘look’ like the Holmes audiences were used to. A year later, though, they allowed him to be a Holmes who looked like Plummer: and that made a huge difference to his performance. So
good, in fact, that it’s in the middle of my top ten favourites.

James Mason isn’t convincing, though. His Watson is trapped somewhere between Nigel Bruce and Nigel Stock, with some of the most irritating habits of both. The plot is a Ripper based one, heavily influenced by Stephen Knight’s book, ‘Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution,’ which manages to drag in the Masons (no, not James’ family!), the Royal family and the British government. It’s just good fun, albeit of the most bizarre variety.

Five Meet To Make Up Myths (BBC Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 also DAB/Freeview708/Freesat708 at 7.30am) Gyles Brandreth explores the relationships and connections between Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, JM Barrie and Bram Stoker in the 1880s and 1890s. Brandreth is his usual very enthusiastic self (which means he often gets carried away!) but this is, nonetheless, an enjoyable programme. Brandreth is well versed in Doyle/Holmes and has also written an engaging series of mysteries featuring Wilde and a number of other literary luminaries from the same era—starting with “Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance” (Touchstone: 2007). This documentary
originally aired on BBC Radio4 on January 17, 2009.

Dover and the Unkindest Cut of All (BBC Radio4 on Sky0104/Virgin904/FM/DAB at 2.30pm) Ok, it’s a bit off the beaten track in terms of Holmes, but I have always enjoyed Joyce Porter’s comic grotesque Chief Inspector Wilfred Dover: played here, with great relish, by Kenneth Cranham. Politically and socially incorrect (it’s set in the 1970s) and very funny.

SUNDAY 26

The Master Blackmailer (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.20am) First shown on January 2, 1992 this is one of the two-hour specials which feels very padded to me. The problem is that the original story is, in a matter of speaking, an open and shut case. There isn’t really any detecting for Holmes to do and the villain is bumped off as he and Watson hide behind a curtain. It would probably have needed padding even if it had been the usual length (around fifty minutes once you discount the time for adverts), so stretching it by another fifty minutes was going to require something fairly meaty. Unfortunately, dramatist Jeremy Paul hasn’t been able to find enough meat.

The media at the time made a bit of a fuss of ‘the kiss’ between Holmes and Agatha (played by Sophie Thompson, whom I would have been delighted to kiss): but Brett commented that “I was concerned about the scene because I thought we might be infringing on Sherlock’s sexuality given that he is such a private man.” I’ll leave you to interpret that for yourselves.

Robert Hardy, who plays Milverton, has a long association with the Canon, having read many of them on audio books and playing Holmes to Nigel Stock’s Watson on eight occasions. I’m not sure he gets it quite right here—there’s just a little too much mince with the menace.

 MONDAY 28 The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.00am) Series 3, Episode 3—The Second Stain (July 23, 1986) Two lovely performances from the very distinguished Harry Andrews (Lord Bellinger) and Patricia Hodge (Lady Hope) add much needed gravitas to what has always struck me as a fairly lightweight plot.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm) Series 3, Episode 4—The Musgrave Ritual (July 30, 1986) A splendidly tight episode from Jeremy Paul: so good, in fact, that it won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.50pm) Series 6, Episode 4—The Red Circle (March 28, 1994) What makes this episode stand out for me is the presence of Betty Marsden and Kenneth Connor as Mr and Mrs Warren. They are two veterans of British comedy and give the roles exactly the right mix of off-centre seriousness without ever falling into mere caricature.

John Hallam, who played Giorgiano—and was one of British television’s best known faces (even if people didn’t know his name) was born in Lisburn (Co.Antrim) in 1941 after his family were evacuated to Northern Ireland at the start of the Second World War.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Showcase on Sky 303/Virgin403 at 10.15pm) 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 Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) Episode 10—The Golden Pince-Nez (September 22, 1993) Another week of Merrison and Williams begins with another of the very difficult ones to dramatise for radio. Maurice Denham, who played Professor Coram—-always a very unlikely character, in my opinion—had been seen a few months earlier playing the Rev. Merridew in Granada’s “The Last Vampyre.”

Thorndyke—Forensic Investigator (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.45am, 1.45pm, 8.45pm and 1.45am The Secret of the Urn: R Austin Freeman claimed to have invented the inverted detective story: “Some years ago I devised, as an experiment, an inverted detective story in two parts. The first part was a minute and detailed description of a crime, setting forth the antecedents, motives, and all attendant circumstances. The reader had seen the crime committed, knew all about the criminal, and was in possession of all the facts. It would have seemed that there was nothing left to tell, but I calculated that the reader would be so occupied with the crime that he would overlook the evidence. And so it turned out. The second part, which described the investigation of the crime, had to most readers the effect of new matter.”

His best known creation, Dr. Thorndyke, enjoyed critical and public success and also featured in the Strand Magazine. But he always seemed a remote figure and that probably explains why he hasn’t stood the test of time. But still worth listening to.

TUESDAY 29

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.50am) Series 3, Episode 4—The Musgrave Ritual (July 30, 1986) See Monday.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm) Series 3, Episode 5—The Abbey Grange (August 6, 1986) Conrad Phillips—playing Sir Eustace Brackenstall—was a big television star from the late 1950s to the late 1960s and is best remembered to my generation (and I’ll leave you to do the maths for yourself) as William Tell. Anne Louise Lambert—Lady Brackenstall—will be best remembered for the absolutely brilliant “Picnic At Hanging Rock.”

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) Episode 11—The Missing Three-Quarter (September 29, 1993) Peter Jeffrey—playing Dr Armstrong—is one of the true greats of British television, having been in just about everything (drama and comedy) in his very long career. As ever, he’s very good in this. And here’s a challenge for you: in Sherlockian terms what links Jeffrey, Christopher Lee and Richard E Grant. I don’t want mere guesses, by the way, so you will have to back up your answer with evidence. A small prize awaits the winner. Entries to: alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

Thorndyke—Forensic Investigator (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.45am, 1.45pm, 8.45pm and 1.45am Pandora’s Box: Read by Jim Norton this is the last in the current series.

Afternoon Play: McLevy (Radio 4 on Sky0104/Virgin904 at 2.15pm) Episode 1—The Blue Gown:  The McLevy series, starring Brian Cox as the Victorian detective, was born in 2000, airing at Christmas time on Radio 4. Seven series have now been broadcast, as well as a special one-off Christmas 2006 episode. This is good stuff, but it’s also grim in places.

WEDNESDAY 30

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.50am) Series 3, Episode 5—The Abbey Grange (August 6, 1986) See Tuesday.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.50am) Series 3, Episode 6—The Man With The Twisted Lip (August 13, 1986) Clive Francis—playing St Clair/Boone—was the son of Raymond Francis, who had played Watson to Alan Wheatley’s Holmes in a 1951 BBC TV series. He has also adapted “The Hound of the Baskervilles” for the
stage. Eleanor David—Mrs St Clair—was also in the 2004 BBC film “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking.”

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) Episode 12—The Abbey Grange (October 6, 1993) Rare chance to compare and contrast a television and radio version of this story on the same day. Penny Downie—Lady Brackenstall—was born in Australia and made her acting debut there, as did Anne Louise Lambert, who played Lady Brackenstall in the Granada version.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1 The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.50am) Series 3, Episode 6—The Man With The Twisted Lip (August 13, 1986) See Wednesday.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm) Series 3, Episode 7—The Six Napoleons (August 20, 1986) This has always been one of my favourite Holmes stories. And an absolute joy to have the wonderful Eric Sykes playing Horace Harker. Gerald Campion—playing Morse Hudson—remains best known as Billy Bunter, a character who appeared in The Greyfriars Herald and Magnet magazines, as did the very funny pastiche Herlock Sholmes. Holmes himself is referred to in the 1953 book, Billy Bunter’s First Case:

“I say, Mauly, old chap! This is a jolly good book! Awfully interesting, and all that! It’s about Sherlock Holmes.” “Eh? Who’s Sherlock Holmes?”

“A wonderful detective, you ass! Chap who finds out mysteries by deduction, you know! I mean, suppose you showed him a walking-stick. He could tell you at once that the man it belonged to was six feet high, and had a ginger moustache, and a cast in the left eye, and so on.”

“Oh, gad!”

“Chap a bit like me,” said Bunter. “Cool, clear, concentrated intellect, and that kind of thing. What are you grinning at, Mauly?”

“Just wonderin’ where you parked that tremendous intellect, old fat man.”

“Oh, really, Mauly! I fancy I could do it,” went on Bunter. “I think I should make a pretty good detective, Mauly. What it needs really is brains. That’s where I come in. Not that a fellow has a chance of showing what he can do, at Greyfriars! There ain’t any mysteries here to solve.”

“Think you could solve the mystery of a mysterious disappearance. Bunter?” asked Lord Mauleverer.

“Bet you I could!” said Bunter, promptly. “Sherlock Holmes is pretty good, from the way this man Conan Doyle goes on, but I’ll bet I could do it just as well as he could. Have you lost anything, Mauly?”

“Yaas.”

“Well, give me a few details.” said Bunter, sitting up and taking notice, quite in the manner of Sherlock Holmes in his consulting-room at Baker Street. “And I’ll jolly well show you. What have you missed?”

“A bag of doughnuts.”

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) Episode 13—TheSecond Stain (October 13, 1993) Jeremy Clyde—playing Trelawney Hope—had played Holmes in 1978, in “The Great Detective” episode of the BBC’s Crime Writers series.

The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 7.00am, 5.30pm and 5.30am)

Episode 1—-The Case of the Clockwork Fiend (January 16, 1999) The great strength of this Holmes spoof is the cast: Roy Hudd (Holmes), Chris Emmett (Watson), June Whitfield (Mrs Hudson), Geoffrey Whitehead (Moriarty) and Jeffrey Holland (Lestrade). The humour is broad and bawdy, but never goes over the knuckle.

Hudd appeared in Granada’s “The Dying Detective” and in an episode of “The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” with Clive Merrison and Andrews Sachs. Emmett played Watson to Bernie Winter’s Holmes in a Sherlock-themed edition of the gameshow 3-2-1. Whitehead played Holmes in a 1979/80 Polish television series with Donald Pickering as Watson.

FRIDAY 2

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.00am) Series 3, Episode 7—The Six Napoleons (August 20, 1986) See Thursday.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.05pm) Series 4, Episode 1—The Devil’s Foot (April 6, 1988) A cracking episode to launch the fourth series, with great work from Denis Quilley as Leon Sterndale, the African explorer. Oddly enough, I can never think of Sterndale without thinking of that other ‘African explorer,’ Captain Spaulding, as played by Groucho Marx in “Animal Crackers.” Quilley also played Bob Carruthers in the Merrison/Williams adaptation of “The Solitary Cyclist” in 1993.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin407 at 9.00pm) See Monday.

Sherlock Holmes—His Last Bow (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) Episode 1—Wisteria Lodge (January 5, 1994) Even though it’s dramatised by Bert Coules this is not high on my list. It just doesn’t work for me. Dominic Letts—playing Baynes—is the son of Barry Letts, who was producer of the BBC’s four part version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in 1982—with Tom Baker as Holmes.

Finally:

John Neville, who played Holmes in the 1965 film “A Study In Terror”, died on November 19. While the film leaves a lot to be desired, Neville’s portrayal of Holmes was pretty good by my reckoning. He also played Holmes for a brief period when the Royal Shakespeare Company took their revival of the Gillette play to Broadway in 1975.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Bulletin 51

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide: November 19th – 25th, 2011.

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

Free SH Audiobook CD Offer! Read all about it here!*

SATURDAY 19th

The Game’s Afoot  (BBC Radio 4 Extra on DAB, also Freeview 708/Freesat 708/Sky 0131/Virgin910 at 9.00am and 7pm)

A three hour special (first broadcast on BBC Radio 7, 19 July 2008) in which Nick Utechin (former editor of the Sherlock Holmes Journal) presents a selection of radio Sherlocks between 1945 and 2004: a sort of old-fashioned Holmes Service, if you like! There’s also an interview with Bert Coules, who dramatised many of the Merrison/Williams complete Canon and the additional Merrison/Sacks “Further Adventures.”

1) The Adventure of the Speckled Band (1945)—Sir Cedric Hardwicke

2) The Red-Headed League (1954)— Sir John Gielgud

3) The Boscombe Valley Mystery (1966)—Carleton Hobbs

4) The Solitary Cyclist (1993)—Clive Merrison

5) The Abergavenny Murder (2004)—Clive Merrison

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00cm07d

SUNDAY 20th

Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four (ITV 3 on Freeview10/Freesat115/ Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.35am.

Originally shown on December 29, 1987, this was the first of the Brett/Hardwicke two-hour specials: and this one also coincided with Sign’s centenary.

It’s a very good—and beautifully filmed—version of the story, with John Thaw (already enjoying huge success as Inspector Morse) as probably the best Jonathan Small I have seen. Ronald Lacey also struck me as damn near perfect as Thaddeus Sholto/Bartholomew Sholto. They are roles which tend to be hammed up by most actors, but he stays away from the sort of ‘camp’ menace approach taken by so many others. He’s certainly much better here than he was as Inspector Lestrade to Ian Richardson’s Holmes in the 1983 Hound of the Baskervilles.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin437 at 1.05pm and 9.00pm)

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.

MONDAY 21st

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm) Series 2, Episode 5—The Red-Headed League (September 22, 1985)

There are lots of reasons to like this episode, not the least being Roger Hammond’s performance as Jabez Wilson. He gets it just right: a wonderful combination of chubby pomposity and utter bafflement, playing wonderfully well against Brett at his mischievous best. And great to see the magisterial Eric Porter in his first outing as Moriarty. You all know, of course, that Moriarty wasn’t in the original story, but John Hawkesworth (who dramatised this episode) was just setting things up for the next episode of the original run—The Final Problem.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55pm) Series 6,Episode 3—The Golden Pince-Nez (March 21, 1994)

Edward Hardwicke was tied up with another project and wasn’t available to play Watson, so the scriptwriter (Gary Hopkins) decided to bring in Mycroft as back-up. It doesn’t work. Charles Gray is very good as Mycroft, but Mycroft was always intended as a minor, slightly mysterious character. Put bluntly, he outstays his welcome!

Frank Finlay, who played Professor Coram, had previously played Inspector Lestrade in the 1965 film ‘A Study In Terror’ and again in the 1979 film ‘Murder By Decree.’

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm, 1am) Episode 5—The Priory School (March 24, 1993)

Another week of Clive Merrison and Michael Williams. Hurrah! Michael Bakewell, who dramatised this episode, also dramatised the same story back in 1978, with Barry Foster as Holmes.

TUESDAY 22nd

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm) Series 2, Episode 6—The Final Problem (September 29, 1985)

This was to be David Burke’s last outing as Watson, so it’s worth remembering that he left very large shoes for Edward Hardwicke to fill. More great work from Eric Porter—probably my favourite Moriarty—and a stunningly filmed climax.

The Scarlet Claw, 1944 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin415 at 5.05pm)

I wouldn’t disagree with the verdicts of Chris Steinbrunner and Norman Michaels (authors of The Films of Sherlock Holmes): “Without question…The Scarlet Claw with its eerie suspense and expert construction was the best entry in the entire Universal Holmesian roster.” The film is clearly influenced by the ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ but has enough little twists and devices of its own to make it engrossing. Along with the Rathbone/Bruce ‘Hound’(1939) and ‘Adventures’ (1939) this is the most characteristically Holmesian story: and it seems to get better each time I see it.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm, 1am) Episode 6—Black Peter (March 31, 1993)

I’ve always thought that this is one of the most difficult stories to dramatise for radio and I’m not sure that David Ashton has managed to pull it off, although Alex Norton gives it his all as Patrick Cairns. Norton is probably best known for his role in Taggart and I liked this from the Sunday Times: “A global hit, the award-winning Taggart is the world’s longest continually running police drama. Alex Norton (Patriot Games) stars as DCI Matthew Burke, who leads a team of tough, committed cops against Glasgow’s criminals. A mad cocktail of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, and old Vincent Price movies.”

WEDNESDAY 23rd

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.05pm) Series 3, Episode 1—The Empty House (July 9, 1986)

And a very warm welcome to Edward Hardwicke as Watson (His father, Sir Cedric, can be heard as Holmes on Saturday 19—see above). Personally I thought that Brett’s disguise as the old bookseller was pretty hammy, but at least we didn’t have to put up with it for too long. Patrick Allen—who was one of British television’s best known actors and voice-overs—is superb as Colonel Moran.

The Scarlet Claw, 1944 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin415 at 11.15am) See Tuesday.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on  307/Virgin437 at 11.50am and 7.45pm) See Sunday.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm, 1am) Episode 7—Charles Augustus Milverton (April 7,1992)

This is another story which is difficult to get right for radio (even television), for there is always the temptation to allow Milverton to come across as a pantomime villain. So thank goodness for Peter Vaughan, who plays him as a genuine ‘heavy’ rather than as a sort of hand-me-down Moriarty. He was also a very convincing Turner in Granada’s ‘The Boscombe Valley Mystery’ (1991).

THURSDAY 24th

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm) Series 3, Episode 2—The Priory School (July 16, 1986)

Nicholas Gecks, who plays James Wilder, went on to play Inspector Lestrade in ‘Sherlock: Case of Evil’ (2002), a made-for-TV film which doesn’t often see the light of day. Thankfully! He also had a small part in ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady’ (1991), with Christopher Lee as Holmes: which is similarly bad. Overall, one of the weaker entries in the Granada series.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm, 1am) Episode 8—The Six Napoleons (September 8, 1993)

A tight little adaptation of the story, with a nice turn from Donald Gee as Inspector Lestrade.

FRIDAY 25th

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm and 1.35am) Series 3, Episode 3—The Second Stain (July 23, 1986)

Two lovely performances from the very distinguished Harry Andrews (Lord Bellinger) and Patricia Hodge (Lady Hope) add much needed gravitas to what has always struck me as a fairly lightweight plot.

Murder by Decree, 1978 (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 11.05pm)

I have always had a very soft spot for this film, even though it has more holes than a gorgonzola.  Christopher Plummer had previously played Holmes in a 1977 TV adaptation of Silver Blaze. To be fair, it wasn’t a vintage portrayal, largely because they tried to make him ‘look’ like the Holmes audiences were used to. A year later, though, they allowed him to be a Holmes who looked like Plummer: and that made a huge difference to his performance. So good, in fact, that it’s in the middle of my top ten favourites.

James Mason isn’t convincing, though. His Watson is trapped somewhere between Nigel Bruce and Nigel Stock, with some of the most irritating habits of both. The plot is a Ripper based one, heavily influenced by Stephen Knight’s book, ‘Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution,’ which manages to drag in the Masons (no, not James’ family!), the Royal family and the British
government. It’s just good fun, albeit of the most bizarre variety.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm, 1am) Episode 9—The Three Students (September 15, 1993)

A very neat little dramatisation by the Northern Ireland actor Denys Hawthorne, who also played Hilton Soames. I wrote about Hawthorne a couple of weeks ago and Oscar passed on a note from Roger Johnson to let me know (which I didn’t) that Hawthorne had played Holmes in a BBC Radio 4 drama, ‘The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes,’ first broadcast in June 1980.

Thanks Roger. If any of you ever have snippets of extra information about cast members etc then please let me know: alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

Note. BBC Radio 4 Extra is also available at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4extra

*STOP PRESS

We’ve Roger Johnson to thank, again, for news of an imminent special offer:

Sherlock Holmes stories free on audiobook CD!

Collect seven free Sherlock Holmes audiobook CDs, written by Arthur Conan Doyle and read by Derek Jacobi, with The Daily Telegraph, November 19 – 25.

Free inside Saturday’s paper, November 19, investigate the disappearance of the champion racehorse, Silver Blaze.

Free inside The Sunday Telegraph, November 20, discover the true nature of The Red-Headed League, followed by another five free audiobook CDs of the most popular Sherlock Holmes stories – available each day with The Daily Telegraph.

Weekday CDs are available from WH Smith High Street locations and other participating stores, subject to availability. Running time: Average 75mins, one story per disc.

Saturday November 19th –
CD ONE – Silver Blaze

Sunday November 20th – CD TWO – The Red-Headed League

Monday November 21st – CD THREE – The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Tuesday November 22nd – CD FOUR – A Case of Identity

Wednesday November 23rd – CD FIVE – The Five Orange Pips

Thursday November 24th – CD SIX – The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor

Friday November 25th – CD SEVEN – The Final Problem

You can also read all about it and see the CD covers here. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/promotions/8879733/Arthur-Conan-Doyle-Sherlock-Holmes-audiobooks.html

 Source: Roger Johnson, District Messenger/Interim News/17 November 2011

 

 

 

News Bulletin 50

“I shall take nothing for granted until I have the opportunity of looking personally into it.”

A Problem Solved!

Members will be aware that there has been a problem with updating the website (we won’t bore you with the technical details) since Tuesday 8 November 2011.

It is therefore pleasing to report that normal service has now resumed. The website has remained fully accessible to visitors during the period in question.

Interview With Anthony Horowitz.

Alex Kane conducted an interview with Anthony Horowitz, author of the new Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk, on 2 November at the Merchant Hotel, Belfast. You can read the interview in full on Alex’s Crow’s Nest page. http://thessmayday.org.uk/crows-nest-2/no-4-interview-with-anthony-horowitz/

A shorter version of this interview appeared in the News Letter on 6 November (it’s a lot less Holmesian). That version can also be read on the newspaper’s website. www.newsletter.co.uk/community/columnists

Review Of The House of Silk.

Alex’s review of the novel is being published in Mayday Mayday (no.113/November) which will be available to members shortly. It will subsequently be posted on the Crow’s Nest page. The review was originally published in the News Letter on 12 November 2011.

SH 2 Update!

A new special contents trailer for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows can be seen here. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/news/a349844/sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows-watch-a-special-content-trailer.html

Ahead of its cinema launch on 16 December 2011, Warner Bros are continuing to ramp-up the publicity with the issue of six new film posters. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/news/a348974/sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows-new-character-posters.html

New Fans For BBC Sherlock.

Roger Johnson has tipped us the wink that’s there’s a new fan site on the go for the BBC’s Sherlock series. http://www.sherlockology.com/

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Update. 

We were unable to publish Alex’s preview of the week’s broadcasting (w/c 11 November) on the website last Friday due to the problem outlined above. However, we did manage to circulate the details to members via e-mail attachment instead. For the record, the article is reproduced below.

 

Alex. Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide for November 12th – 18th, 2011.

For those of you who have been listening to Derek Jacobi’s reading of The House of Silk, it continues as Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime (10.45pm) from Monday to Friday.

*If you haven’t read the book, but are planning to, then avoid the radio pages of Radio Times, for every day carries a plot spoiler!

Those of you who have enjoyed Jacobi’s reading of Silk may be interested to know that he has done a series of Holmes stories for BBC Audiobooks—-all of which are available through Amazon.

SATURDAY 12th:

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 5.05pm) The last of the Rathbone/Bruce series this one is, frankly, bizarre. Best advice is to suspend your critical faculties and enjoy the inter-play between Holmes and Watson. Shortly after the film was released Rathbone decided not to renew either his film or radio contracts to play Holmes, hoping that he could escape from the character and do ‘other, better work.” Too late: for that generation he was Sherlock Holmes.

SUNDAY 13th:

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM at 9.40am)

MONDAY 14th:

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Freeview 10/Freesat 115/Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 7.55pm)

Episode 2, Sixth Series—The Dying Detective (March 14, 1994) It always struck me that this is one of the most difficult episodes to pull off, because it also always struck me as pretty implausible that Watson could hide behind a bed-end for so long! But they get away with it—just.

T.R.Bowen, who wrote the screenplay, was also an occasional actor: so he invented the character of Charles Damant and played it himself. He also invented a role for comedian Roy Hudd. Hudd was to play Holmes for BBC Radio 2 in the 1999 series “The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes,” with Chris Emmett as Watson and the wonderful June Whitfield as Mrs. Hudson. It was fairy bawdy stuff, but had its moments. Hudd also had a guest appearance in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, with Clive Merrison as Holmes and Andrew Sachs as Watson. He played James Phillimore in an episode called “The Singular Inheritance of Miss Gloria Wilson.”

Jonathan Hyde had a role in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (BBC 2004) and Susannah Harker played Irene St Claire to Charlton Heston’s Holmes in the 1991 film “Crucifer of Blood.”

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin437 at 1.35 pm and 9.00pm) 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 Tales of Max Carrados (BBC Radio 4 Extra on Freeview 708/Freesat 708/Sky 0131/Virgin 910 at 6.30am and repeated 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am) Max Carrados is the blind detective hero of a series of mystery stories and books by Ernest Bramah, beginning in 1914. The Carrados cases appeared alongside Sherlock Holmes in the Strand Magazine, in which they often had top billing, and frequently outsold his eminent contemporary at the time, even if they failed to achieve the longevity of Holmes. The story is read by Arthur Darvill—best known as Rory Williams, Amy Pond’s (the best ever companion!) husband in the wonderfully revived Doctor Who. This is the last episode of the present series.

TUESDAY 15th:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.05pm)

Episode 1, Second Series—The Copper Beeches (August 25, 1985) It’s hard to believe, but apart from an uncredited role in “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in 1968, when she was only five; and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turn in the 1984 television series “Oxford Blues,” this was Natasha Richardson’s first major role. And she is very good as Violet Hunter, one of my favourite characters from the Canon.

Great work, too, from the ever reliable Joss Ackland, as Jephro Rucastle. He had roles in “The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation As We Know It” (a rarely seen 1977 comedy with John Cleese as Holmes and Arthur Lowe as Watson) and Sherlock Holmes and the Incident at Victoria Falls ( a shouldn’t be seen 1991 film with Christopher Holmes and Patrick Macnee as possible the worst Holmes/Watson ever). (This should have read – ‘a shouldn’t be seen 1991 film with Christopher Lee and Patrick Macnee as possibly the worst Holmes/Watson ever.’ Crew advised by e-mail.)

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am)

Episode 1—-The Empty House (February 24, 1993) Always good to hear this series again: and worth remembering that Clive Merrison and Michael Williams remain the only two actors to have completed the Canon.

Knowing Me, Knowing You, With Alan Partridge (Radio 4 Extra at 11.00pm) The radio talk show host Alan Partridge was a huge comic triumph for Steve Coogan. This first episode features Partridge’s interview with the entirely fictional author Lawrence Camley and

includes (almost at the start of the programme) a marvellous surreal dialogue between them about Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle. Very, very funny stuff.

WEDNESDAY 16th:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.10pm)

Episode 2, Second Series—The Greek Interpreter (September 1, 1985) Charles Gray had been a very good Mycroft Holmes in the 1976 film “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” (one of my favourite Holmes films), so it was always a pleasure to see him reprise the role in the Granada series.

My one major concern is with the screenplay, because I don’t think that Derek Marlowe has captured either the soul or sound of Holmes.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am)

Episode 2—The Norwood Builder (March 3, 1993) Another excellent dramatisation from Bert Coules is let down by the casting of Peter Sallis as Jonas Oldacre. The voice is always that of “Last of the Summer Wine” and “Wallace and Gromit” and it just grates on my ear! And you really should hear his portrayal of Hercule Poirot!!!!

THURSDAY 17th:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.05pm)

Episode 3, Second Series—The Norwood Builder (September 8, 1985) A rare chance to watch a televised version of the story after the radio version the previous day.

I wouldn’t disagree with Michael Cox’s view that Colin Jeavons was “the best Lestrade of his generation.”

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am)

Episode 3—The Dancing Men (March 10, 1993).

FRIDAY 18th:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.05pm)

Episode 4, Second Series—The Resident Patient (September 15, 1985) Nicholas Clay, who plays Dr. Trevelyan, had played Stapleton in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in 1983, with Ian Richardson as Holmes. Patrick Newell, who plays Blessington, appeared in “A Study In Terror (1965), “Young Sherlock Holmes” (1985) and also played Lestrade in a 1980 Holmes series for Polish television. Sadly, though, this is just a so-so adaptation of what is, admittedly, not one of Doyle’s best stories.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4 Extra at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am)

Episode 4—The Solitary Cyclist (March 17, 1993) I have already mentioned Susannah Harker—who plays Violet Smith—in my comments about “The Dying Detective.” Denis Quilley, playing Bob Carruthers, had played Leon Sterndale in “The Devil’s Foot” with Jeremy Brett in 1988.

 

News Bulletin 49

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide for November 5th – 11th, 2011.

“I am giving you some information now, in return for all that you have given me.”

Book at Bedtime (BBC Radio 4 at 10.45pm: Monday 7th -Friday 11th and Monday 13th -Friday 17th). Derek Jacobi will be reading an abridged version of Anthony Horowitz’s The House of Silk.

Jane Anderson, radio editor of Radio Times, notes: ‘While the deceased author will not be spinning in his grave about the beautiful quality of the writing, he might not be too impressed by the type of crime committed.’

At the last sailing of the Crew I mentioned that the book, while well written, would divide Holmesians. Anderson seems to be of the same opinion!

Saturday 5th

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin437 at 10.10am and 6.45pm) 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.

Monday 7th

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview 10/Freesat 110/Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.50am, also ITV 3 + 1 on Freesat 116/Sky 180/Virgin 174) 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. The ‘Crew’ watched this one at our last sailing and all enjoyed it: hard to believe that it’s almost 30 years old.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.05pm) Episode 4, First Series—The Solitary Cyclist (May 15th, 1984) A nice little episode dramatised by the late Alan Plater. He was one of British TV’s most accomplished scriptwriters and adapters, with credits including Z Cars, Soft Softly: Taskforce and the Beiderbecke series.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 7.55pm) Episode 1, Sixth Series—The Three Gables (March 7th, 1994) Brett was quite ill when this series was made and at times his performances bordered on the manic. Indeed, by this time, a decade since the Granada series first went into production, the whole series had slowed down and lost its edge. A good turn, though, from Peter Wyngarde as Langdale Pike. And if you think that ‘Dora’ looks familiar, that’s because she’s played by Edward Hardwicke’s daughter, Emma Hardwicke.

The Tales of Max Carrados (BBC Radio 4 Extra at 6.30am and repeated 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am) Max Carrados is the blind detective hero of a series of mystery stories and books by Ernest Bramah, beginning in 1914. The Carrados cases appeared alongside Sherlock Holmes in the Strand Magazine, in which they often had top billing, and frequently outsold his eminent contemporary at the time, even if they failed to achieve the longevity of Holmes. The story is read by Arthur Darvill—best known as Rory Williams, Amy Pond’s (the best ever companion!) husband in the wonderfully revived Doctor Who.

*The series continues until Thursday 10th, with each tale repeated throughout the day.

Footlight Fairies (BBC Radio 4 Extra at 2.30pm) This is a brief biography of the suffragist Millicent Fawcett. I mention it only because she features in Graham Moore’s recent novel ‘The Holmes Affair.’ It’s actually quite a good read, although some people were upset about the very heavy reliance on the mysterious death of Richard Lancelyn Green (an acknowledged authority on Holmes/Doyle) for its plot.

Tuesday 8th

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.05pm) Episode 4, First Series—The Solitary Cyclist (May 15th, 1984)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.00pm) Episode 5, First Series—The Crooked Man (May 22nd, 1984) Dramatised by Alfred Shaughnessy, best known as the script editor of the hugely influential and massively popular TV series, ‘Upstairs Downstairs.’ Norman Jones, who played ‘The Crooked Man,’ was a well known face on British television, although never a star. Denys Hawthorne, who played Col. Barclay, was born in Northern Ireland and graduated in law from Queen’s University.

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 7.25pm) The last of the Rathbone/Bruce series this one is, frankly, bizarre. Best advice is to suspend your critical faculties and enjoy the inter-play between Holmes and Watson. Shortly after the film was released Rathbone decided not to renew either his film or radio contracts to play Holmes, hoping that he could escape from the character and do ‘other, better work.” Too late: for that generation he was Sherlock Holmes.

Wednesday 9th

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 8.50am) Episode 5, First Series—The Crooked Man (May 22nd, 1984)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.05pm) Episode 6, First Series—The Speckled Band (May 29, 1984) Another excellent dramatization from Jeremy Paul, with Jeremy Kemp in terrific form as Roylott. It’s a very easy role to turn into a sort of pantomime villain, but Kemp manages to make him a more rounded character than we know just from the short story. Rosalyn Landor, who plays Helen Stoner, is now a multi award winning narrator of audio books in America.

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM at 11.10am)

The Rivals (BBC Radio 4 at 11.30am) This is the last episode of the quirky but likeable series in which Inspector Lestrade (played by James Fleet) introduces us to the professional ‘rivals’ of Sherlock Holmes. This week it’s the turn of ‘Loveday Brooke’—the Lady Detective. The creation of Catherine Louisa Pirkis, she made her first appearance in the Ludgate Monthly in February 1893 and turned to detection after she was “thrown upon the world penniless and all but friendless.”

For those of you interested in the female rivals could I suggest: ‘Sherlock’s Sisters: The British Female Detective 1864-1913’—by Joseph A. Kestner.

Thursday 10th

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3at 8.50am) Episode 6, First Series—The Speckled Band (May 29th, 1984)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.05pm) Episode 7, First Series—The Blue Carbuncle (June 5th, 1984) Does this episode ever get shown at Christmas time?! An excellent adaptation of what is one of my favourite stories. There are three great strengths to this one: 1) Brett’s delivery of the line about the goose coming back to life; 2) Ken Campbell’s perfect portrayal of James Ryder; and 3) and the always value-for-money Frank Middlemass as Henry Baker. This is just fun to watch and a reminder that a great part of the success of the Granada series lay in the strength of the casting of key roles.

Friday 11th

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 4.05pm) Episode 7, First Series—The Blue Carbuncle (June 5th, 1984)

 

Footnote. Anthony Horowitz was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, Thursday 3rd. www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

 

News Bulletin 48

“Hello! Here is something interesting.”

Horowitz: Booked In For Belfast.

Belfast is one of the first calls on Anthony Horowitz’s itinerary as he travels the UK http://anthonyhorowitz.com/newscentre/events/ to promote his new Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk, which was launched on Tuesday 1 November 2011. He’ll be in town on Wednesday 2 November at the Ulster Museum in an interview with Ian Sansom. Ticket details from No Alibis – 028 9031 9607. www.noalibis.com 

The award-winning author was a guest of Simon Mayo on his BBC Radio 2  drive time show on Wednesday 26 October. He chatted to Simon about his new novel and much more besides. You will find it about halfway through the programme, which can be accessed on the BBC iPlayer (you’ll need to hurry!). He was also interviewed by William Crawley on The Book Programme on BBC Radio Ulster on Sunday 30 October 2011 (repeated Thursday 3 November at 7.30pm). You can also hear this on the BBC iPlayer.

SH2 Update.

Catch Trailer  2 Here!

http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi1860541977/

And Trailer 1 Again Here!

In case it passed you by, or you want to make a comparison. http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3605306393/

Guess What Total Film’s Big Cover Story Is?

Stars of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are all over the cover of the new Total Film (issue 187, December 2011). Inside, spread over four pages, you’ll find what the magazine claims is “The Full Story! – On Set /In Depth/Up Close.”  But don’t expect to uncover any significant new plot details (most of us probably knew that the movie is going big on Moriarty and on Watson getting hitched)  – they’re still under studio wraps. http://www.totalfilm.com/magazine

This issue also has two pages on the second series of the BBC’s Sherlock which we knew had been delayed until next year. Total Film says it’s due in January 2012.

SH3 – No, It’s Not A Typo!

SH2 is not due in cinemas (UK & USA) till 16 December 2011, but already Warner Bros are planning a third one. http://www.mymovies.net/player/default.asp?t=MovieWatch+27th+October+2011&ftrid=14342&filmid=10190&s=1&n=2

Happy Endings.

Julian Barnes has won the Man Booker  at his fourth attempt. His novel The Sense of an Ending picked up the coveted prize for 2011 on 17 October at  a ceremony at London’s Guildhall. In 2005 his Doylean pastiche (based on a real life case involving Conan Doyle) Arthur & George was shortlisted. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookprizes/8834706/Julian-Barnes-a-potted-bibliography.html

Director Peter Hammond Dies.

The Times (21 October 2011) recorded the death of actor turned director Peter Hammond on 12 October, aged 87. In his later years he became a regular contributor to the Granada Sherlock Holmes TV series starring Jeremy Brett. 

Alex Kane has thoughtfully supplied us with a list of the episodes he directed. The Return (1986-8):Wisteria Lodge, The Abbey Grange, The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Case-Book (1992-3):The Eligible Bachelor and The Master Blackmailer. The Memoirs (1994): The Mazarin Stone, The Golden Pince-Nez and The Three Gables. He started off with Sign, his last work for TV being his three Case-Book episodes. You can also read his obit at this link. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/tv-radio-obituaries/8837255/Peter-Hammond.html

InSite.

Changes are afoot as we continue to develop our website. An absolutely splendid new picture of Holmes, another Sydney Paget original, is up for all to see on our Home page, a couple more of the well-told tales (Spec & Lady) have just been added to the Stories page and the Forum has been jettisoned. Hardly a surprise to see the Forum go, it has not exactly been overused, but we are pleased to report that Maurice our Webmaster is preparing a more user-friendly replacement for us, which we hope to be able to say a lot more about in the not too distant future.