Archive for December, 2011

News Bulletin 59

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

December 31, 2011 – January 6, 2012.

“Here we are, Watson – this must be the one!”

A very happy new year to one and all! For me the Holmesian highlight of 2010 was the first three episodes of Sherlock, so I’m really pleased to see it back again. The highlight of 2011 was The House of Silk and my lengthy interview with Anthony Horowitz. I hope he follows through on his hint that he might be tempted to pen a few short stories based on cases that never made it to the official Canon.

As ever, I am always happy to receive additional information re episodes, actors and films discussed in this weekly preview. Please contact me at: alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

I will continue to focus on Holmes, but from time to time I will point you in the direction of other programmes which I think may appeal to you. So could I suggest that you keep a close eye on the schedules for BBC Radio4 Extra, for you will find a lot of detective stuff there, including Paul Temple, Lord Peter Wimsey, Holmes, Dr. Thorndyke and an extraordinarily wide range of short stories.

SUNDAY 1

Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (BBC 1 at 8.10pm) What a wonderful way to celebrate the New Year! This was a huge ratings and critical success for the BBC last year and by all accounts the next three episodes are up to the same standard. It works, I think, because in precisely the same way that Granada ensured the accuracy of period detail and plotting with the Brett series, writers/creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have ensured that Holmes fits perfectly into this era. This is good stuff.

I will write an overall review of the series when the last episode—The Reichenbach Fall—has been shown; and I will tie it in with a review of A Game of Shadows.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Christmas on Sky 303/Virgin403 at 7.40am and 12.15am) 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.

I haven’t seen A Game of Shadows, yet, but it has had a critical mauling. Indeed a number of non-Holmesian friends have practically begged me not to see it. That said, it seems to have done very well at the box-office.

WEDNESDAY 4

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115/Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.05am and 12.45am) Series 5, Episode 1—The Disappearance of Lady Francis Carfax (February 21, 1991) Julian Curry—playing Schlessinger/Peters—gets it absolutely right: and that’s important, because so many other versions of this story have failed because of the underplaying or overplaying of this central role. Personally, I would happily chase across Europe after Cheryl Campbell, even if she wasn’t playing Lady Francis!

THURSDAY 5

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115/Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.05am) Series 5, Episode 2—The Problem Of Thor Bridge (February 28, 1991) The role of J. Neil Gibson (like those of Roylott and Milverton) is easy to get wrong, but Daniel Massey gets it just about right. Massey’s father, Raymond Massey, had played Holmes in a 1931 version of The Speckled Band and had been pretty good in the role. The film turns up on TV very occasionally, but DVDs are easy and cheap to get. Catherine Russell—playing Grace Dunbar—is the daughter of Nicholas Smith (Mr. Rumbold from Are You Being Served?), who had a small role in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. Dean Magri—playing Billy the pageboy—is now a very successful tap dancer and choreographer: which suggests he could have been used in either The Dancing Men or The Problem of the Devil’s Thor Foot. Thank you, you’ve been a wonderful audience!

The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on DAB/Freeview708/Freesat708/Sky0131/Virgin910 at 7.00am, 5.30pm and 5.30am) Episode 6—-The Demon Cobbler of Greek Street (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 6

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115/Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.05am and 2.00am) Series 5, Episode 3—Shoscombe Old Place (March 7, 1991) Yes, that is Jude Law in the role of Joe Barnes! Michael Wynne—playing Josiah Barnes—played Commissionaire Jenkins in The Mazarin Stone, the penultimate episode of the Granada series in 1994.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Action/Adventure on Sky 305/Virgin405 at 9.00pm) See Sunday.

*January 6 is not only Sherlock Holmes’ birthday, it is also the birthday of Crewmate Margaret Sterrett. Holmes is, of course, immortal: Margaret deserves to be. Happy Birthday to both!

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Bulletin 58

“Look,at this, Watson,” he cried.

Today’s The Day!

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is opening today in most cinemas across the UK, Republic of Ireland & USA. It’s a 12A (UK) with a running time of 128 minutes. See the roll-out schedule for other countries here. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1515091/releaseinfo

Reviews.

Reviews which have come to our notice to date include the following.

Film 2011 with Claudia Winkleman (BBC1, Wednesday 14th) reviewed the film at the start of the show. You can catch the entire programme here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b018jp3k/Film_2011

Front Row (BBC Radio4, Tuesday 13th) also did a review. We overlooked this one but if like us you missed it at the time, here’s a chance to catch-up. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0184rgv

You’ll find a review from The Guardian at this link. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/dec/13/sherlock-holmes-game-shadows-review?INTCMP=SRCH

And one from the Daily Telegraph here. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/guystagg/100058859/too-much-moriarty-less-is-more-when-it-comes-to-sherlock-holmess-arch-enemy/

Here are a couple more reviews which were spotted on the Internet.

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/review/a355369/sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows-review.html

http://movies.uk.msn.com/sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows-movie-review

Interviews.

You can hear a short interview with Stephen Fry who plays Mycroft Holmes here. This link may not be accessible outside the UK. http://www.virginmedia.com/movies/trailers-clips/sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows-exclusive-interview-with-stephen-fry-guy-ritchie-and-jared-harris/1326045012001/

The Film Programme (BBC Radio4,Thursday 15 December, repeated Sunday 18 December at 11pm) includes a short interview with Eddie Marsan, who reprises his role as Inspector Lestrade in the film. Did we doze off and miss the SH2 bit? You can listen to the programme here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0184v31/The_Film_Programme

Film Tie-in Comp 1.

Booking online to see SH2 at any Odeon Cinema could put you on the plane to Paris for a free luxury weekend break. Find out how to try your luck here. http://www.odeon.co.uk/fanatic/film_info/m12941/Sherlock_Holmes

FilmTie-in Comp 2.

Bus shelter posters promoting the film have been appearing across Belfast during the past few days (and we presume elsewhere too). These feature RDJ and a hidden game which you can access via a smart phone. The winners could get themselves a nice hotel break if they hit the jackpot.

Talking of posters, there’s lots on the Metro buses here in Belfast but no sign of any of those big billboards which were used for SH1.

Trivia.

For those who like this sort of thing, here’s a few to be getting on or off with.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/news/cumberbatch-i-think-like-holmes-16088822.html

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/posts/view/224227/Downey-Jr-suggested-transvestite-scene-for-Sherlock/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2068061/Robert-Downey-Jr-Sherlock-Holmes-movie-like-best-sex-life.html

 

News Bulletin 57

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

‘Double Issue’ for December 17-30, 2011

 “I fear there is not very much”

There’s nothing new on the Sherlock front over the next couple of weeks—unless, of course, there’s something you haven’t seen! Actually, there isn’t all that much Sherlock stuff at all. The really good New Year news is that the Cumberbatch/Freeman “Sherlock” is back in January with three new episodes – BBC1 on Sunday 1 January 2012 at 8.10pm.

And, as ever, I’m always happy to get your snippets, additions, amendments, corrections etc: send them to alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

Anyway, enjoy whatever holidays you have coming and have a happy, peaceful and wonderfully relaxing Christmas.

SATURDAY 17

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM on Sky317/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. http://www.tcmuk.tv/index.php

SUNDAY 18

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin 415 at 9.05am) See Saturday

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin407 at 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. http://movies.sky.com/

MONDAY 19

Sherlock Holmes: The Eligible Bachelor (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115/Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.00am) First shown on February 3, 1993, this is another one of the two-hour specials: and it outstays its welcome, by adding elements which just don’t make sense.

Simon Williams—playing Lord St Simon—has adapted the Hound for the theatre, albeit as “a comedy melodrama, where an ancient curse returns to terrify the Baskerville family.” I can’t actually recall many laughs in the original story! Anna Calder-Marshall—playing Helena/Agnes Northcote—is the wife of David Burke, the first to play Watson to Brett’s Holmes. Mary Ellis—playing Lady Florence—was born before “The Adventure of the Empty House” was published: she also appeared as Mary Maberley in Granada’s “The Three Gables” in March 1994. It was to be her final performance.

TUESDAY 20

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 4.55pm; 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 21

Pursuit to Algiers, 1945 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.50pm) There is actually no mystery and no detection involved. As one critic noted at the time: “Pursuit to Algiers does nothing but keep the Sherlock Holmes franchise for Universal and lessen its value.” There isn’t even a half decent baddie to keep us occupied.

THURSDAY 22

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

Episode 4—-Sherlock Holmes and the Glorious Doppelganger (February 2, 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.

BBC Radio4 Extra is also available at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4extra

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

SATURDAY 24

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.”

From Hell, 2001 (5* on Freeview30/Virgin151 at 9.00pm) The Ripper/Holmes ‘connection’ has been explored in a number of books and films, most notably “A Study in Terror” and “Murder by Decree.” This film doesn’t feature Holmes, but it does have Johnny Depp as Inspector Abberline, a detective who displays some distinctly Holmesian characteristics. And it’s also pretty good, albeit a little grisly in places.

Sherlock (BBCHD on Sky169/Virgin187/Freeview54/Freesat109 at 9.30pm)

Episode 1—A Study in Pink (July 25, 2010) The new series begins in January, so this is a nice little reminder of what we have been missing. This is a Holmes for our times; a Holmes who uses computers and texts in exactly the same way that the 1890s Holmes used reference books and telegrams. He still has the same relationship with Watson and Scotland Yard. The plots—a little over-egged for my tastes—are sourced from the original stories and very cleverly adapted for today’s audience.

Martin Freeman is easily one of the best Watsons ever—maybe even the best. I’m not as sure about Cumberbatch as Holmes, though. He’s good, but he doesn’t look like having the timelessness of a Rathbone or Brett. But the writing, by Steve Moffat and Mark Gatiss, is superb and even though the plotting and twists don’t always stack up in terms of logic this is, nonetheless, very entertaining stuff. I’m looking forward to the three new episodes: “A Scandal In Belgravia,” “The Hounds of Baskerville” and “The Reichenbach Fall.”

SUNDAY 25

Sherlock (BBCHD on Sky169/Virgin187/Freeview54/Freesat109 at 10.30pm

Episode 2—The Blind Banker (August 1, 2010) See Saturday 24th

MONDAY 26

Sherlock (BBCHD on Sky169/Virgin187/Freeview54/Freesat109 at 9.30pm)

Episode 3—The Great Game (August 8, 2010) See Saturday 24th

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin407 at 9.00pm) See Sunday 18th.

WEDNESDAY 28

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Christmas on Sky 303/Virgin403 at 10.25pm) See Sunday 18th.

THURSDAY 29

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

Episode 5—Holmes Strikes A Happy Medium (February 13, 1999) See Thursday 22nd

FRIDAY 30

From Hell, 2001 (5* on Sky176/Virgin151 at 9.00pm) See Saturday 24th

 

News Bulletin 56

“Anything else, I asked?”

Well, yes actually. Here’s a short Bulletin, especially for those of you who just can’t get enough SH2 news.

WEDNESDAY 14 DECEMBER.

ITV1’s Daybreak (6am to 8.30) will include a SH2 feature. There is likely to be something on the BBC1’s Breakfast show too (6am to 9.15) – Thursday 15 or Friday 16 seem most likely.

Film 2011 with Claudia Winkleman on BBC1 at 11.45pm will review the new movie.

THURSDAY 15 DECEMBER.

Another review seems more than probable on The Film Programme on BBC Radio4 at 4pm (repeated Sunday 18 at 11pm).

FRIDAY 16 DECEMBER.

A reminder that The Graham Norton Show on BBC1 at 10.35pm will have Jude Law and Robert Downey Jnr. discussing their respective roles in SH2 with Graham.

SATURDAY 17 DECEMBER.

Expect a SH2 review too on Weekend Extra with Kerry McLane on BBC Radio Ulster at 7.05am. This show has a regular film spot with local critic Mike Cato and it’s inevitable that he’ll have something to say about this latest SH reinvention. The film reviews usually kick in shortly after 7.45am. You may also catch him the previous evening on artsextra, Radio Ulster’s weekday arts programme at 6.30pm as he often does a review on that also.

BBC Radio Ulster broadcasts on DAB/FM/MW and can also be heard on www.bbc.co.uk/radioulster. Of course, like all these other programmes mentioned here, you can always catch them on the BBC iPlayer (or the ITV Player re Daybreak).

Don’t forget that Alex’s current Preview is carried in Bulletin 54 and that his new one (a ‘double issue’ for the Festive Fortnight which starts Saturday 17 December) will be posted on the website tomorrow (Bulletin 57).

 

 

 

News Bulletin 55

“But about this picture.”

SH2 – The Waiting Game Is Over!

Well, almost. Are you excited?  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) opens in cinemas in the UK and Ireland and many other countries including the USA  on Friday 16 December 2011 and we’ll be doing our best to keep you informed.

The earliest screening date is Hong Kong, where the movie is due on 14 December and it’s in the Netherlands a day later. If you live in France however, you’ll have to wait to until the end of January to see it there. To check out the release dates for countries across the globe look here. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1515091/releaseinfo

Premieres.

The UK premiere took place on Thursday 8 December at the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square, London while the USA premiere was staged the previous evening in Los Angeles. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-pictures/Sherlock+Holmes%3A+A+Game+Of+Shadows+premiere-latest.do?id=23384194

http://www.pinkisthenewblog.com/2011/12/sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows-premieres-in-hollywood/

Images.

There are lots of SH2 images to be seen online, almost enough, we said almost, to get the hang of the story without actually going to the cinema, not that you’d want to do miss it – would you? http://screenrant.com/sherlock-holmes-game-shadows-image-gallery-kofi-141786/

Posters.

Warner Bros could be in line for a special award in ‘the most posters used to promote a film’ category, if they ever get around to having one of those. Here’s a few of them to sample including our favourite, Gladstone the dog, much more scary we think, than most of the decidedly dodgy mongrels which have played the part of the Hound in so many screen portrayals down the years (anyone remember the BBC’s 2002 production? No, we didn’t think so!). http://comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Wolvie09/news/?a=50072

Talking of posters, you can see a stunning one of Noomi Rapace, who plays Sim, a Gypsy fortune teller in the movie here. http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=84305

The Woman!

And let’s not overlook Rachel McAdams who plays Irene Adler, although it’s a smaller part than her role in SH1. http://rachelmcadams.org/career/filmography/sherlock-holmes-a-game-of-shadows-2011/

Trivia.

For those who like total trivia, here’s the bit about RDJ kicking an extra during the film’s production. http://news.uk.msn.com/articles.aspx?cp-documentid=160025229

Reviews.

Empire and Total Film (February 2012 issues) will both carry reviews on the movie. Empire is due on sale Tuesday 20 December and Total Film two days later. The current Empire (January) has a one page feature about a special Sherlock pipe, which you may care to look into.

Links.

Our Links page has a special section on SH2 with loads of links including at least some of the ones you’ll see in this Bulletin.

News Bulletin 54

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

December 10 – 16, 2011.

“Weekly reports will suffice.”

SATURDAY 10

Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampyre (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115/ Sky119/Virgin117 at 1.50pm) “The Sussex Vampire” has always struck me as one of the weaker stories in the Canon: there really isn’t all that much to get your teeth into in terms of plot and detecting! So stretching an already thin story into a two-hour special was always going to be a challenge. This dramatisation (first shown on January 27, 1993), although written by the usually reliable Jeremy Paul, doesn’t really rise to the challenge. Indeed, it quickly descends into the sort of hand-me-down gothic novel that Hammer might have tried to get away with two decades earlier.

Roy Marsden—better known for playing P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh—is absolutely wasted in the invented role of John Stockton. Marsden (with John Moffatt as Watson) was a pretty good Holmes in a series of Talking Tape Company dramatisations in the late 1980s.  There’s a good supporting cast, though, including Freddie Jones, Maurice Denham and Keith Barron.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime Thriller on Sky307/Virgin437 at 8.00pm) 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.

SUNDAY 11

I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue (BBC Radio 4 on FM/DAB/Sky0104/Virgin904 at 12.00pm) Always worth listening to anyway: but there happens to be a nice little Holmes/Watson piece in this one.

Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 2.35pm) 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.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.45pm) Series 5, Episode 1—The Disappearance of Lady Francis Carfax (February 21, 1991) Julian Curry—playing Schlessinger/Peters—gets it absolutely right: and that’s important, because so many other versions of this story have failed because of the underplaying or overplaying of this central role. Personally, I would happily chase across Europe after Cheryl Campbell, even if she wasn’t playing Lady Francis!

Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 1.10am) This is a pretty good version of the story, with both Brett and Hardwicke in top form. Good work from James Faulkner as Stapleton—another one of those characters that is so easy to get wrong. Nice, too, to see Ronald Pickup as Barrymore. He was actually a very credible Holmes (with Norman Rodway as Watson) in “The Singular Case of Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud” back in 1990.

Kristoffer Tabori—playing Sir Henry—is a little bit wooden: but the problem is that Doyle seems to have written him that way. He’s not a likeable character and there really isn’t much warmth to him. But I suppose he was always going to be overshadowed by both Stapleton and the Hound. Tabori played Watson to Martin Jarvis’s Holmes in 2005:

Blackstone Audiobooks is pleased to present the first audio recordings ever of the only two Holmes plays written by his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This new, specially commissioned production of the Hollywood Theater of the Ear stars Audie Award-winning readers Martin Jarvis (as Sherlock Holmes) and Kristoffer Tabori (as Dr. Watson).In Sherlock Holmes, the Napoleon of crime, Professor Moriarity, plots with would-be blackmailers to have Holmes killed. And the normally love-proof Holmes falls for an exceptional woman.

What is the secret of the shocking death of poor Enid’s sister, whose dying words were, “the speckled band?” Only Holmes can find the answer and save a helpless girl from certain death in The Speckled Band.

When Holmes retired, it created a financial crisis for his friend Watson, who owes money to mobsters who want either their cash or his blood. The surprising upshot is: Ghastly Double Murder in Famed Detective’s Flat, a one-act comedy by producer-director Yuri Rasovsky, here receiving its audiobook premiere.

MONDAY 12

Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.40am) See Sunday

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55pm) Series 6, Episode 6—The Cardboard Box (April 11, 1994) Almost ten years to the day since the first Brett was shown, this turned out to be the last. Yes, he had lost the fire and the passion and looked unwell, but it’s still hard to watch this and not regret the fact that he never got to complete the Canon. I have lost count of the number of actors I have seen or heard tackling the role, but for me Brett remains the best: he eclipses and predominates.  

It’s the reference to Belfast in the story which provided us with our name—the Crew of the S.S. May Day—so it seems fitting that Jim Browner should be played by the Belfast born Ciaran Hinds.

The Book Show (Sky Arts2 on Sky245/Virgin283 at 6.00pm) P.D. James and Anthony Horowitz are the guests.

Sherlock Holmes: His Last Bow (BBC Radio4 Extra on Freeview708/Freesat708/Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am) Episode 7—The Devil’s Foot (February 16, 1994) Patrick Allen—who played Colonel Moran in the Granada series—is a very good Sterndale. It’s all to do with the voice! Geoffrey Beevers—playing
Rev. Roundhay—played Inspector Montgomery in Granada’s “The Eligible Bachelor.”

TUESDAY 13

Sherlock Holmes: The Eligible Bachelor (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.45am) First shown on February 3, 1993, this is another one of the two-hour specials: and it outstays its welcome, by adding elements which just don’t make sense. Simon Williams—playing Lord St Simon—has adapted the Hound for the theatre, albeit as “a comedy melodrama, where an ancient curse returns to terrify the Baskerville family.” I can’t actually recall many laughs in the original story! Anna Calder-Marshall—playing Helena/Agnes Northcote—is the wife of David Burke, the first to play Watson to Brett’s Holmes. Mary Ellis—playing Lady Florence—was born before “The Adventure of the Empty House” was published: she also appeared as Mary Maberley in Granada’s “The Three Gables” in March 1994. It was to be her final performance.

Sherlock Holmes: His Last Bow (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am) Episode 8—His Last Bow (February 23, 1994) An excellent episode from Bert Coules to end the series. And this one is top-heavy with interconnections:

Norman Rodway—playing Stamford—was Watson to Ronald Pickup’s Holmes in “The Singular Case of Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud” (1990).

Donald Pickering—playing Sir Edward Grey— was Watson to Geoffrey Whitehead’s Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson” (1979/80).

Michael Cochrane—playing Captain Kell—was Watson to Jeremy Clyde’s Holmes in “The Great Detective” episode of the “Crime Writers” series (1978).

Preston Lockwood—playing Henry Asquith—was in the Hobbs/Shelley version of “The Naval Treaty” (1952).

Ed Bishop—playing the Agent— played Drebber in the Merrison/Wiilams “A Study in Scarlet” (1989) and played Stangerson in the Cushing/Stock version of the story (1968).

James Telfer—playing Von Bork—has done an audiobook reading of Hound.

Christmas with the Detectives—The Blue Carbuncle (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910) The first of a run of seasonal whodunits read by Tom Conti. Thomas Hardy, Dorothy L. Sayers and GK Chesterton stories make up the rest of the week.

 WEDNESDAY 14

The Master Blackmailer (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.40am and 12.30am) 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.

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415) Almost three years after 20th Century-Fox had decided not to continue the Rathbone/Bruce series, Universal Pictures picked up the option and pitted our heroes against the Nazis. The plot has a number of interesting twists, not least that one of the supposed good guys turns out to be von Bork. Ok, it’s enjoyable, if undemanding stuff, but Bruce still grates as Watson—particularly in this sort of war time setting. I’ve never been convinced that the WW2 films played any significant role in propaganda terms. Indeed, it’s hard to disagree with film critic Howard Barnes’ view: “As a sort of intelligence officer in the present conflict, the detective is bizarre and ineffective.” But audiences seemed to like it.

Hands of a Murderer (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.30pm) To be honest, it might have been better for all concerned if the hands of a murderer had been placed around the throats of both the director and writer and strangled this 1990 TV movie nonsense at birth. The plot is twaddle and, at times, impenetrable. Edward Woodward is unconvincing and unenthusiastic as Holmes, while Anthony Andrews’ Moriarty is less of a criminal mastermind and much more of a criminally bad piece of acting. Peter Jeffrey does his very best as Mycroft, but he has very little to work with. John Hillerman, as Watson, is probably best known for his role in “Magnum, PI,” but he’s actually quite good here. In one of the Magum episodes—Holmes Is Where The Heart Is–he played a pretend Watson to Patrick Macnee (a character who thought he was Holmes). Have a look if you haven’t seen it before. If you have seen it, then on your own head be it if you think it improves on a second showing. It doesn’t.

THURSDAY 15

The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 7.00am, 5.30pm and 5.30am) Episode 3—-The Case of the Deranged Botanist (January 30, 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.

Sherlock Holmes: The Eligible Bachelor (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.45am) See Tuesday

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.50pm) Season 1, Episode 2—The Dancing Men (May 1, 1984) A very understated adaptation by Anthony Skene, with excellent work from Tenniel Evans as Hilton Cubitt and Betsy Brantley as his wife, Elsie.

Terror By Night (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.55pm) released in February 1946 this was the second last of the Rathbone/Bruce series. It’s all a bit stagey—hard to avoid when set on a train—but at least it’s Holmes the detective rather than Holmes the Nazi fighter. Good performance from Alan Mowbray as a disguised Colonel Moran, “the most sinister, ruthless and diabolically clever henchman of our late and unlamented friend, Professor Moriarty.” Mowbray had also played Inspector Gore-King in “Sherlock Holmes” (1932, with Clive Brooke as Holmes) and  Inspector Lestrade in “A Study in Scarlet” (1933, with Reginald Owen as Holmes.

FRIDAY 16

Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.50am and 1.05am) See Sunday

The Graham Norton Show (BBC1 at 10.35pm) Features an interview with Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law. I wonder what they could be promoting?!

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Indie on Sky312/Virgin412 at 10.00pm) See Saturday

BBC Radio4 is also at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4

BBC Radio4 Extra is also at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4extra

News Bulletin 53

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

December 3 – 9, 2011.

“I will tell you no more gloomy details. Let us turn to something brighter.”

MONDAY 5

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115/Sky119/Virgin117 at 06.50am) 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.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.50pm) Series 6, Episode 5—The Mazarin Stone (April 4, 1994) An absolute jumble of an episode which drags in “The Three Garridebs” and Mycroft (Charles Gray stepping in for the increasingly ill Brett—who makes only a brief appearance). It just doesn’t work: largely to do with the fact that the stories, individually, are weak. The name of the main villain in the 2009 “Sherlock Holmes,” Lord Blackwood, is derived from the name Count Negretto Sylvius (Negretto is Italian for ‘Black’ and Sylvius is Latin for ‘Woods’).

Sherlock Holmes: His Last Bow (BBC Radio4 Extra on DAB/ Freeview708/Freesat708/Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am) Episode 2—The Cardboard Box (January 12, 1994) Kevin Whately (of “Morse” and “Lewis” fame) is a very good Browner. (Ken Coombs who serves as Whately’s ‘stand-in’ in “Lewis” has also appeared in both the Downey Holmes’ films). Stephen Thorne—playing Lestrade—is one of radio’s best known voices and he has also done a number of readings of Conan Doyle stories, including “The Crooked Man” and “Sir Nigel.”

TUESDAY 6

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.00am) Series 4, Episode 2—Silver Blaze (April 13, 1988) “Silver Blaze” is the story which began my lifelong enjoyment of the Canon and this is a pretty good dramatisation.

Sherlock Holmes: His Last Bow (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am) Episode 3—The Red Circle (January 19, 1994) The great joy of both the Merrison/Williams and Granada productions is the contribution from the guest stars and the obvious enjoyment that so many of them get from being involved. Today we have the chance to listen to Joan Sims as Mrs Warren, a part she tackles with obvious relish. I have very fond memories of her as Mrs. Bung in “Carry On Screaming”, the closest that Carry On ever came to Sherlock Holmes.

WEDNESDAY 7

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.00am) Season 4, Episode 3—Wisteria Lodge (April 20, 1988) Great screenplay from Jeremy Paul and a lovely performance from Freddie Jones as Inspector Baynes. Jones was to return to the Granada series a few years later for “The Last Vampyre” and he also had a role in “Young Sherlock Holmes in 1985). Donald Churchill—playing Scott Eccles—had played Watson to Ian Richardson’s Holmes in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in 1983, although he wasn’t very good.

Sherlock Holmes: His Last Bow (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am) Episode 4—The Bruce Partington Plans (January 26, 1994) John Moffatt—playing Sir James Walter—has played Holmes to Timothy West’s Watson in “Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula” in a 1981 radio adaptation. Pauline Yates—playing Mrs Johnson—is the wife of Donald Churchill (see above).

THURSDAY 8

Sherlock Holmes: His Last Bow (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am) Episode 5—The Dying Detective (February 2, 1994) Edward Petherbridge—playing Smith—is probably much better known for playing Lord Peter Wimsey in a ten episode BBC series: but he also played Holmes (with David Peart as Watson) in a National Public Radio series between 1991 and 1993.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.55am) Season 4, Episode 4—The Bruce Partington Plans (April 27, 1988) Another opportunity to compare the Merrison/Willliams version (see Wednesday) with Brett/Hardwicke. A very good guest star list in this one; including Geoffrey Bayldon (who had appeared in one of the episodes of the 1979/80 Whitehead/Pickering “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson” series). Bayldon turned down the opportunity to be the original Dr Who and again turned down the role when Patrick Troughton (my favourite) replaced William Hartnell.

The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 7.00am, 5.30pm and 5.30am) Episode 2—The Mystery of the Obese Escapologist (January 23, 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.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.50pm) Season 1, Episode 1—A Scandal In Bohemia (April 24, 1984) I remember watching this episode for the first time and thinking “Wow! Brett is Sherlock Holmes.” I still prefer Hardwicke to David Burke, but this first series wouldn’t have worked without Burke’s understated and occasionally subtle interpretation of the character. Gayle Hunnicutt is an ideal Irene Adler. And let’s not forget the wonderful Rosalie Williams as Mrs Hudson—a great piece of casting and a great piece of acting.

The Book Show (Sky Arts on Sky243/Virgin281 at 8.00pm) Features interviews with PD James and Anthony Horowitz.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Christmas on Sky 303/Virgin403 at 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 Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 12.05am) Series 6, Episode 5—The Mazarin Stone (April 4, 1994) See Monday

FRIDAY 9

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.00am) Series 5, Episode 1—The Disappearance of Lady Francis Carfax (February 21, 1991) Julian Curry—playing Schlessinger/Peters—gets it absolutely right: and that’s important, because so many other versions of this story have failed because of the underplaying or overplaying of this central role. Personally, I would happily chase across Europe after Cheryl Campbell, even if she wasn’t playing Lady Francis!

Sherlock Holmes: His Last Bow (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.00am, 1.00pm, 8.00pm and 1.00am) Episode 6—The Disappearance of Lady Francis Carfax (February 9, 1994) This version doesn’t work for me precisely because Peter Wickham gets it completely wrong as Schlessinger/Peters. And the Lady really has disappeared in this one! What do I mean by that? Answers by e-mail please to: alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

Four of you had a go at last week’s quiz and the winner is Roger Johnson. I asked, in Sherlockian terms, what links Peter Jeffrey, Christopher Lee and Richard E Grant? They have all played Mycroft and they have also either played Holmes or played someone who wasn’t really Holmes!