Archive for February, 2012

News Bulletin 72

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

March 3 – 9, 2012

“And there was nothing else?” Holmes asked. “Nothing of any importance.”

A quiet week on the Holmes front. For those of you who enjoyed the recent Murdock Mysteries episode which featured Conan Doyle, there is a follow-up episode on Saturday. And Andrew Sachs is back again for another week of Father Brown.

As ever, please send any snippets etc to: alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

SATURDAY 3

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115 and Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.00am)

Series 5, Episode 4—The Boscombe Valley Mystery (March 14, 1991) Peter Vaughn—playing Mr. Turner—was a very good Charles Augustus Milverton in the Merrison/Williams radio series and is equally good here. He’s one of our very best character actors, best known for roles in Citizen Smith, Porridge and Our Friends In The North.

James Purefoy—playing James McCarthy—had screen tested for the role of James Bond in 1995, losing out to Pierce Brosnan. He lost out again a few years later to Daniel Craig. I’m not 100% certain, but this may have been his first TV/film role.

The Teahouse Detective: The de Genneville Peerage (Radio4 Extra on DAB also Freeview & Freesat708/Sky0131/Virgin910 and online at 1.15pm and 3.15am)

Baroness Orczy is best remembered as the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel, but she also wrote a number of stories about armchair detective Bill Owen, who related the cases to a young journalist as they took tea at the ABC Teashop, near the Strand. The stories had first appeared in The Royal Magazine in 1901, but neither Owen nor The Royal came anywhere close to enjoying the success of Holmes or The Strand.

Anyway, this is a tight, old-fashioned entertainment with the always reliable Bernard Hepton as Owen.  It was first broadcast in 1998.

Murdock Mysteries (Watch on Sky109/Virgin124 at 8.00pm)

Belly Speaker (March 16, 2008)—The Murdock Mysteries (based on the novels by Maureen Jennings) stars Yannick Bisson as a detective in 1890s Toronto. The series occasionally features real people from the late Victorian era. A few weeks ago Elementary, My Dear Murdock, was shown, with Geraint Wyn Davies as Conan Doyle, who was in Toronto to give a lecture on spiritualism. In this episode Doyle is back again, this time to study Murdock for a new novel he is writing. His visit coincides with a murder in which the prime suspect is a ventriloquist with a dummy named Mycroft!

Sherlock (BBCHD on Freeview54/ Freesat109 and Sky169/Virgin187 at 9.00pm)

Series 2—Episode 2:  The Hounds of Baskerville (January 8, 2012) This was just twaddle: and finally so far-fetched that it became, in every sense of the term, incredible. I have some experience in these matters and I know that you can’t just waltz in and out of high security bases and Watson would never have even got into the base without specific clearance and his own pass. How likely is it that a few clicks of a computer—having just guessed the password!!!—would give you access to top secret CIA material? How likely is it that Frankland would have had a tee-shirt with a H.O.U.N.D logo on it? How likely is it that he could have covered a moor with gas bombs?

This story looked like so many of the dramas that came out in the wake of the Dolly the Sheep cloning story—particularly Chimera (1991), which it resembled in many ways, including being set on a remote moor. The other problem is that this could easily have been an episode of Dr Who: so much so, in fact, that I half expected Holmes to pull out a sonic screwdriver to open locked doors! There was nothing uniquely Holmesian about this and very little in the way of detection.

SUNDAY 4

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.00am)

Series 5, Episode 5—The Illustrious Client (March 21, 1991) Very nice—if that’s the right word in the circumstances—performance from Anthony Valentine as Baron Gruner. He had enjoyed great success in Callan, Colditz and Raffles. Raffles, of course, was written by E.W. Hornung, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law.

MONDAY 5

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am

Andrew Sachs plays G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown in this cosy little radio series first broadcast between 1984 and 1986. He also took over as Dr. Watson (to Clive Merrison’s Holmes) after Michael Williams died.

*This is 1/5 episodes which will be running until Friday at same time.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.10am)

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 and the Voice of Terror (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.45pm) 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.

TUESDAY 6

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30amSEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.05am and 1.00am)

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.’

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 11.30am) SEE MONDAY

WEDNESDAY 7

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.10am)

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 in 1941 after his family were evacuated to Northern Ireland at the start of the Second World War.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 7.50pm and 1.00am)

Episode 7, First Series—The Blue Carbuncle (June 5th, 1984) Does this episode ever get show 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.

THURSDAY 8

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.10am)

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’.

Paul Temple and Steve (Radio 4 at 11.00pm)   

Episode 7 of 8: The Suspects

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Temple mysteries, particularly the series that still turns up on Radio 4 Extra at regular intervals. This is a new production—first broadcast in June 2010—of the 1947 detective serial and sounds pretty good; with Crawford Logan making an excellent Temple and Gerda Stevenson splendid as his wife, Steve.  The producer, Patrick Rayner, was one of the key people behind the Merrison/Williams Sherlock Holmes complete canon for Radio 4.

Hands of a Murderer (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 12.00 midnight) 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.

FRIDAY 9

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.10am)

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 SS MayDay—so it seems fitting that Jim Browner should be played by the Belfast born Ciaran Hinds.

News Bulletin 71

“A singular set of people, Watson”

It was twenty years ago today – the 29th February 1992 (although it was a Saturday not a Wednesday)  – that a group of otherwise disparate individuals were drawn together for the first time here in Belfast by a shared interest in the world’s greatest private consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend, companion and biographer Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.

And so it came to pass that the aforementioned group found themselves transformed into sailor folk and all at sea, on board the reincarnation of a Victorian steam packet – the S.S. May Day. The rest, as they say, is history.

Last Sunday, the 26th, those on board marked the occasion of this anniversary in an appropriate manner by getting entangled in a quiz on Card, the only story in the Canon to mention “Belfast” or indeed “the north of Ireland,” watching loops of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce till our eyes nearly glazed over and reminiscing endlessly, as we do. We also managed to seriously deplete the stock of rations in the ship’s galley, not the first time that this has happened either.

Having made it through our first twenty years we can only now speculate, and we’re also dab hands at that activity, on what the future holds for The Crew of the S.S. May Day. Time, as they also say, will tell.

 

 These iconic illustrations were drawn by Sidney Paget for The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, which was first published in the Strand Magazine, January 1893.

News Bulletin 70

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

February 25 – March 2, 2012

“You have observed, of course, said he”

Not much in the way of anything new on television, but some nice radio treats, including new adaptations of Rumpole.

As ever, if you have any snippets or extra information please let me know: alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

SATURDAY 25

Sherlock (BBCHD on Freeview54/ Freesat109 and Sky169/Virgin187 at 9.00pm)

Series 2, Episode 1—A Scandal in Belgravia (January 1, 2012) The dominatrix theme has already been explored in CSI and House, both of which have Holmes-connected lead characters with their own versions of Irene Adler: and the plot resembled a hodgepodge of Spooks and Hustle.

The finale was pure hokum—are we really supposed to believe that Holmes popped over to Karachi, helped Adler to escape from a terrorist group and then that he and Mycroft cooked up a story to convince Watson that she was dead—but that Sherlock was being allowed to believe she was in a witness protection scheme in America? Anyway, it has left the door open for the return of Adler at some point.

What worried me slightly was that Holmes had gone from being quirky to being downright rude—something he rarely was in the original stories. The scene of him in Buckingham Palace, in his bed sheet, was both petulant and unbelievable.

There were a couple of nice jokes along the way about Watson’s blog references to ‘The Speckled Blonde’ and ‘The Navel Treatment.’ That said, Martin Freeman’s Watson is beginning to wander too close to the territory of being a wide-eyed, open-mouthed bystander. He is in danger of becoming a Dr Who type companion.

Mark Gatiss’ Mycroft is weakly drawn and weakly acted. Mycroft is supposed to be a figure of substance, in every sense of that term, but this Mycroft is a bitchy, pedantic, lazily put together creation.

The Teahouse Detective: The Brighton Mystery (Radio4 Extra on DAB also Freeview & Freesat708/Sky0131/Virgin910 and online at 1.15pm and 3.15am)

Baroness Orczy is best remembered as the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel, but she also wrote a number of stories about armchair detective Bill Owen, who related the cases to a young journalist as they took tea at the ABC Teashop, near the Strand. The stories had first appeared in The Royal Magazine in 1901, but neither Owen nor The Royal came anywhere close to enjoying the success of Holmes or The Strand.

Anyway, this is a tight, old-fashioned entertainment with the always reliable Bernard Hepton as Owen.  It was first broadcast in 1998.

SUNDAY 26

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview10/Freesat115 and Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.00am)

Season 4, Episode 2—Silver Blaze (April 13, 1988) SILV was the story which introduced me to Holmes almost 45 years ago and it remains one of my favourites. So I’m very pleased that this is a bang-on-the-money adaptation.

MONDAY 27

Lord Peter Wimsey (Radio4 Extra on Freeview/Freesat708 also Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am)

Gaudy Night. First broadcast in 2005 this is a delightful adaptation of Dorothy L. Sayers’1935 novel, featuring her aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. Ian Carmichael was born to play the role and played him very successfully on both radio and television.

*This is episode 1/5 and will be running at the same time until Friday

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am

Andrew Sachs plays G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown in this cosy little radio series first broadcast between 1984 and 1986. He also took over as Dr. Watson (to Clive Merrison’s Holmes) after Michael Williams died.

I’m not aware of any actor who has played both Watson and Father Brown (but please let me know if I’m wrong!)—but it has reminded me that I must finally read Mark Kendrick’s Night Watch, ‘a long lost adventure in which Sherlock Holmes meets Father Brown.

*This is episode 1/5 and will be running at the same time until Friday

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55am)

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.

Book of the Week: Wilkie Collins (BBC Radio 4 —FM only—at 9.45am)

Collins’ The Moonstone, published in 1868, was described by T.S. Eliot as “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels.” Dorothy L. Sayers was no less generous, referring to it as “probably the very finest detective story ever written.”

This is an abridged version of Peter Ackroyd’s recent biography of Collins. Ackroyd is a brilliant writer and this book was very well received by the critics. Ackroyd is a great admirer of Conan Doyle and has spoken of the “melancholy intensity and majestic cadence” of his prose, “striated with rich local detail, so that he seems effortlessly able to evoke the marvellous and the terrible in the ordinary”. He also wrote a very insightful introduction to The Sign of Four (a 2001 edition from Penguin Books).

The reader is Michael Pennington, who starred as Holmes in the 1987 TV movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes. It’s an acquired taste—a taste I have never acquired, either drunk or sober!

*This is episode 1/5 and will be running at the same time until Friday

TUESDAY 28

Lord Peter Wimsey (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) SEE MONDAY

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra/Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am  SEE MONDAY

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am and 1.00am)

Series 5, Episode 4—The Boscombe Valley Mystery (March 14, 1991) Peter Vaughn—playing Mr. Turner—was a very good Charles Augustus Milverton in the Merrison/Williams radio series and is equally good here. He’s one of our very best character actors, best known for roles in Citizen Smith, Porridge and Our Friends In The North.

James Purefoy—playing James McCarthy—had screen tested for the role of James Bond in 1995, losing out to Pierce Brosnan. He lost out again a few years later to Daniel Craig. I’m not 100% certain, but this may have been his first TV/film role.

Book of the Week: Wilkie Collins (BBC Radio 4 —FM only—at 9.45am) SEE MONDAY

WEDNESDAY 29

Lord Peter Wimsey (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) SEE MONDAY

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am  SEE MONDAY

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.05am)

Series 5, Episode 5—The Illustrious Client (March 21, 1991) Very nice—if that’s the right word in the circumstances—performance from Anthony Valentine as Baron Gruner. He had enjoyed great success in Callan, Colditz and Raffles. Raffles, of course, was written by E.W. Hornung, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law.

Book of the Week: Wilkie Collins (BBC Radio 4 —FM only—at 9.45am) SEE MONDAY

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Showcase on Sky 303/Virgin403 at 5.45pm) 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.

Terror By Night (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.50pm) 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.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 7.55pm and 1.00am)

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.

The Mrs Bradley Mysteries (BBC4 on Freeview9/Freesat107 also Sky116/Virgin107 at 9.00pm)

The Worsted Viper. Written by Gladys Mitchell between 1929 and 1984 the Mrs Bradley mysteries—65 in total—have never enjoyed the commercial or critical success of her contemporaries. She was actually an early member of the Detection Club, along with Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers who, collectively, were often described as ‘the Big Three women detective writers of the 1930s.’ This short lived series (five episodes in 1998/99) with Diana Rigg and Neil Dudgeon was comfortably cosy stuff, but always too lightweight and quirky to work as serious detection.

THURSDAY, MARCH 1

Lord Peter Wimsey (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) SEE MONDAY

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910
at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am 
SEE MONDAY

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Season 5, Episode 6—The Creeping Man (March 28, 1991) I’ve always regarded this as one of the silliest stories in the entire Canon, lacking credibility, logic, plot or detection. Sarah Woodward—playing Edith Presbury—is the daughter of Edward Woodward, who has played Holmes in Hands of a Murderer.

Book of the Week: Wilkie Collins (BBC Radio 4 —FM only—at 9.45am) SEE MONDAY

Terror By Night (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 11.40am) SEE WEDNESDAY

Rumpole and the Man of God (BBC Radio 4 at 2.15) New adaptation of a John Mortimer legal drama: and, as ever with Rumpole it’s lovely stuff. Nice work from Timothy West as Rumpole (although I still miss Leo McKern) and with the bonus of Benedict Cumberbatch as the young Rumpole.

Paul Temple and Steve (BBC Radio 4 at 11.00pm)   

Episode 6 of 8: Steve’s Intuition

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Temple mysteries, particularly the series that still turns up on Radio 4 Extra at regular intervals. This is a new production—first broadcast in June 2010—of the 1947 detective serial and sounds pretty good; with Crawford Logan making an excellent Temple and Gerda Stevenson splendid as his wife, Steve.  The producer, Patrick Rayner, was one of the key people behind the Merrison/Williams Sherlock Holmes complete canon for Radio 4.

FRIDAY 2

Lord Peter Wimsey (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) SEE MONDAY

Father Brown Stories (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am  SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.05am)

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.

Book of the Week: Wilkie Collins (BBC Radio 4 —FM only—at 9.45am) SEE MONDAY

Rumpole and the Explosive Evidence (BBC Radio 4 at 2.15) SEE THURSDAY

Pursuit to Algiers (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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Bulletin 69

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

February 18 – 24, 2012

“I have just been looking through all the recent papers in order to master the particulars.”

There’s not much new on the TV front, but there are a handful of delights on Radio 4 Extra. Also, if you have never seen The Molly Maguires then try and catch it or tape it on Friday.

SATURDAY 18

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview10 and Freesat115 also Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.35am)

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 Teahouse Detective: The Body in the Barge (Radio4 Extra on DAB and Freeview/ Freesat708 also Sky0131/Virgin910 at 1.15pm and 3.15am)

Baroness Orczy is best remembered as the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel, but she also wrote a number of stories about armchair detective Bill Owen, who related the cases to a young journalist as they took tea at the ABC Teashop, near the Strand. The stories had first appeared in The Royal Magazine in 1901, but neither Owen nor The Royal came anywhere close to enjoying the success of Holmes or The Strand.

Anyway, this is a tight, old-fashioned entertainment with the always reliable Bernard Hepton as Owen.  It was first broadcast in 1998.

The Lost Special (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 11.00pm)

Read by David Schofield, this story, written by Conan Doyle in 1898, concerns the baffling disappearance of a special train (a train privately hired and unavailable to the general public) on its journey to London. A letter to The Times by “an amateur reasoner of some celebrity at that date” is excerpted at one point, and the style of the writing suggests that the author of the letter is probably meant to be Holmes. This “recognized authority upon such matters” does not solve the mystery, although his proposed solution is fairly close to the true solution revealed at the end of the story. The impersonal way in which this person is referred to would seem to imply that the narrator is not meant to be Dr. Watson.

The Lost Special was also adapted by Universal Studio in 1932 as a twelve part serial.

SUNDAY 19

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 6.30am)

 

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.

MONDAY 20

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

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.

Murder on the Orient Express (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am)

Other than David Suchet—who also manages to look the part—John Moffatt is my favourite Poirot. This is a very solid adaptation of the Christie novel. I don’t know of any other actor who has played Holmes, Watson and Poirot—but I’m sure one of you will let me know otherwise at alexkane221b@hotmail.co.uk

*This is 1/5 episodes and the programme will be running until Friday at the same times.

Thrilling Stories of the Railway (Radio4 Extra on Sky0131/Virgin910 at 6.30am, 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am)

Victor L Whitechurch is a mostly forgotten writer, but he did write some pretty good stories featuring Thorpe Hazell, a vegetarian railway detective. They first appeared in the Strand Magazine and Railway Magazine (among others) and were published as a collection in 1912. He was admired for his plotting and accuracy.

*Read by Benedict Cumberbatch this is 1/5 episodes and the programme will be running until Friday at the same times.

TUESDAY 21

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Season 4, Episode 2—Silver Blaze (April 13, 1988) SILV was the story which introduced me to Holmes almost 45 years ago and it remains one of my favourites. So I’m very pleased that this is a bang-on-the-money adaptation.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 12.30am)

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.

Murder on the Orient Express   SEE MONDAY

Thrilling Stories of the Railway  SEE MONDAY

WEDNESDAY 22

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

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 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.00pm)

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.

Murder on the Orient Express   SEE MONDAY

Thrilling Stories of the Railway  SEE MONDAY

THURSDAY 23

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55am)

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, 2009 (Sky Action/Adventure on Sky305/Virgin405 at 1.40pm and 10.00pm) 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.

Paul Temple and Steve (Radio 4 at 11.00pm)   

Episode 5 of 8: David Nelson Explains

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Temple mysteries, particularly the series that still turns up on Radio 4 Extra at regular intervals. This is a new production—first broadcast in June 2010—of the 1947 detective serial and sounds pretty good; with Crawford Logan making an excellent Temple and Gerda Stevenson splendid as his wife, Steve.  The producer, Patrick Rayner, was one of the key people behind the Merrison/Williams Sherlock Holmes complete canon for Radio 4.

Murder on the Orient Express   SEE MONDAY

Thrilling Stories of the Railway  SEE MONDAY

FRIDAY 24

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55am)

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 Molly Maguires (Sky Classics on Sky311/Virgin411 at 10.15pm)

Directed in 1970 by Martin Ritt this is the story of a secret organisation of Irish coal miners in nineteenth century Pennsylvania and their infiltration by detective James McParland, a Pinkerton agent. It’s based on a mostly true story and also served as a back-drop for Conan Doyle’s ‘The Valley of Fear.’

Richard Harris—playing McParland—is the father of Jared Harris, who plays Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Good support from Sean Connery, Frank Finlay and the wonderful Samantha Eggar didn’t stop the film from performing poorly at the box-office.

Murder on the Orient Express   SEE MONDAY

Thrilling Stories of the Railway  SEE MONDAY

 

 

 

News Bulletin 68

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

February 11- 17, 2012

To paraphrase Holmes, ‘you will see that there is not much to observe this week.’

SATURDAY 11

Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four (ITV3 on Freeview10 and Freesat115 also Sky119 and Virgin117 at 12.45pm) 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.

Afternoon Play: McLevy (BBC Radio 4 Extra on DAB also Freeview and Freesat708 plus Sky0131/ Virgin910 at 1.15pm)

Stab in the Back:  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.

SUNDAY 12

Catch up on some reading or Holmesian studies—there’s nothing to watch.

MONDAY 13

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55am)

Series 3, Episode 4—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.

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Action/Adventure on Sky305/Virgin405 at 12.30pm 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. That said, when compared with A Game of Shadows this one doesn’t look quite so bad.

TUESDAY 14

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

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 Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 12.30am)

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.”

WEDNESDAY 15

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Series 3, Episode 5—The Abbey Grange (August 6, 1986) SEE TUESDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.00am)

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 Mrs Bradley Mysteries (BBC4 on Freeview9 and Freesat107 also Sky116/Virgin107 at 9.00pm)

The Rising of the Moon. Written by Gladys Mitchell between 1929 and 1984 the Mrs Bradley mysteries—65 in total—have never enjoyed the commercial or critical success of her contemporaries. She was actually an early member of the Detection Club, along with Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers who, collectively, were often described as ‘the Big Three women detective writers of the 1930s.’ This short lived series (five episodes in 1998/99) with Diana Rigg and Neil Dudgeon was comfortably cosy stuff, but always too lightweight and quirky to work as serious detection.

THURSDAY 16

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55am)

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.”

Paul Temple and Steve (BBC Radio 4 at 11.00pm)   

Episode 4 of 8: Mrs Forester is Surprised

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Temple mysteries, particularly the series that still turns up on Radio 4 Extra at regular intervals. This is a new production—first broadcast in June 2010—of the 1947 detective serial and sounds pretty good; with Crawford Logan making an excellent Temple and Gerda Stevenson splendid as his wife, Steve.  The producer, Patrick Rayner, was one of the key people behind the Merrison/Williams Sherlock Holmes complete canon for Radio 4.

FRIDAY 17

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Bulletin 67

“I have been expecting you to do something original.”

A Game Of Shadows DVD Date!

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is due for DVD release on 14 May 2012The DVD Extras consist of The Original Dynamic Duo, The Moriarty Gambit and Holmesavision Steroids. The Triple Play pack which covers Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy includes the aforementioned extras plus a host of other ones. 

 New BBC Sherlock  DVD.

The BBC Sherlock Series 2 was released on DVD and Blu-ray disc on 23 January 2012.  Extras (on both format) consist of a documentary called Sherlock uncovered (this is a behind the scenes look at the making of the series) and an audio commentary. Also available is a Box Set which contains the latest series and the first one. Websites such as www.find-dvd.co.uk/ can search out the best deals for you.

Focus On Deduction.

Benedict Cumberbatch has his finger on the cover of the current Focus, the BBC’s science/technology & future magazine.  Its February issue (no.238, £3.95) is running a 10-page feature on the Science of Deduction which is tied-in with the Sherlock series. Hurry, for it may be off shelf before you read this! www.sciencefocus.com

Classics Study.

Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the more traditional cartoon strip format or it could be the delightful absence of padding, but whatever the reason, Classics Illustrated makes a nice contrast to the more modern graphic novels. The latest issue (no.37, £3.99) is A Study in Scarlet edition and also includes The Adventure of the Speckled Band. Stockists include WH Smith and Easons. You’ll usually find this monthly magazine in their Comics section. Again, hurry before it sells out! www.classicsillustrated.co.uk

 

 

 

News Bulletin 66

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

February 4 – 10, 2012

“I have no wish to commit you to anything without your having it all laid before you.”

 It’s actually a pretty good weekend to be snowed in, as TCM are showing back-to-back Rathbone—seven out of the fourteen, in fact. And there’s also an opportunity to see the first ever episode of Inspector Morse. A chance, too, to see Eric Porter as Moriarty and compare him with Jared Harris and Andrew Scott. All in all, not a bad week!

SATURDAY 4

Sherlock Holmes: The Eligible Bachelor (ITV3 on Freeview10 and Freesat115 also Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.30am) 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.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 12 noon and 5.55am Sunday) 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.

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 1.35pm) 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.

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (Sky317/Virgin415 at 3.00pm)  The third Holmes vehicle in 1943, this is one of my favourites in the Rathbone/Bruce series. I was getting a little tired of the in-your-face anti-Nazi propaganda of the previous three, so it was nice to see a return to more old-fashioned detection—albeit set in a nursing home for  convalescent officers. It’s also got a really strong Holmesian storyline—borrowing heavily from The Musgrave Ritual— and an excellent screenplay from Bertram Millhauser.

I also love the closing lines from Holmes: “There’s a new spirit abroad in the land. The old days of grab and greed are on their way out. We’re beginning to think of what we owe the other fellow, not just what we’re compelled to give him. The time is coming, Watson, when we cannot fill our bellies in comfort while the other fellow goes hungry, or sleep in warm beds while others shiver in the cold. And we shan’t be able to kneel and thank God for blessings before our shining altars while men anywhere are kneeling in either physical or spiritual subjection. And, God willing, we’ll live to see that day, Watson.”

The Woman in Green, 1945 (Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 4.15pm) This was the 11th of 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.”

Terror By Night (Sky317/Virgin415 at 5.30pm) 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.

Pursuit to Algiers, 1945 (Sky317/Virgin415 at 6.35pm) 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.

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, 1942 (Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.45pm) 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.

SUNDAY 5

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 7.30am) SEE SATURDAY

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (Sky317/Virgin415 at 8.50am)  SEE SATURDAY

The Woman in Green, 1945 (Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 10.05am) SEE SATURDAY

Terror By Night (Sky317/Virgin415 at 11.20am) SEE SATURDAY

Pursuit to Algiers (Sky317/Virgin415 at 12.30pm) SEE SATURDAY

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (Sky317/Virgin415 at 1.45pm and 5.35 am Sunday) SEE SATURDAY

MONDAY 6

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55am)

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 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (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 us up for the next episode of the original run—The Final Problem.

TUESDAY 7

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Series 2, Episode 5—The Red-Headed League (September 22, 1985) SEE MONDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (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 ‘Crew’ watched this episode at our last sailing and we all enjoyed it enormously. I hadn’t watched it for about five years, but I still thought Porter’s Moriarty was more convincing than Jared Harris (A Game of Shadows) or Andrew Scott (The Reichenbach Fall).

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (Sky317/Virgin415 at 7.45pm) SEE SATURDAY

WEDNESDAY 8

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (Sky317/Virgin415 at 6.30am) SEE SATURDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Series 2, Episode 6—The Final Problem (September 29, 1985) SEE TUESDAY

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm)

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 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 7.55pm)

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.

NB: This episode will only be shown if ITV1 shows an FA Cup fourth-round replay. So check schedules on the day.

THURSDAY 9

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sky119/Virgin117 at 8.00am)

Series 3, Episode 1—The Empty House (July 9, 1986) SEE WEDNESDAY

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (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.

Paul Temple and Steve (Radio 4 at 11.00pm)

Episode 3 of 8: Presenting Ed Bellamy

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Temple mysteries, particularly the series that still turns up on Radio 4 Extra at regular intervals. This is a new production—first broadcast in June 2010—of the 1947 detective serial and sounds pretty good; with Crawford Logan making an excellent Temple and Gerda Stevenson splendid as his wife, Steve.  The producer, Patrick Rayner, was one of the key people behind the Merrison/Williams Sherlock Holmes complete canon for Radio 4.

FRIDAY 10

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.55am)

Series 3, Episode 2—The Priory School (July 16, 1986) SEE THURSDAY

Inspector Morse (Sky119/Virgin117 at 10.15)

Episode 1—The Dead of Jericho (January 6, 1987) It’s hard to believe that it is twenty-five years since the first of this hugely successful series was broadcast—on Sherlock Holmes’ birthday, no less! John Thaw (playing Jonathan Small) appeared with Jeremy Brett in  The Sign of Four in December 1987; and Kevin Whately (playing Jim Browner) appeared with Clive Merrison in Radio 4’s The Cardboard Box in January 1994.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sky119/Virgin117 at 3.50pm)

Series 3, Episode 4—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.