News Bulletin 49

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 5th

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky 307/Virgin437 at 10.10am and 6.45pm) While Robert Downey Jnr gives us a Holmes we have never really seen before (and I won’t complain about that) I still think this film is let down by a lousy plot, gorgonzola script and an awful lot of hamming-it-up from a cast who should know better. Guy Ritchie doesn’t seem to have understood that Holmes is a ‘thinking machine’ first and foremost.

Monday 7th

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview 10/Freesat 110/Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 8.50am, also ITV 3 + 1 on Freesat 116/Sky 180/Virgin 174) Episode 3, First Series—The Naval Treaty (May 8th, 1984) I think that the episodes dramatised by Jeremy Paul are amongst the best: and this is one of my favourites. Paul went on to write The Secret of Sherlock Holmes for Brett and Hardwicke in 1988, which had a very successful run in the West End. The ‘Crew’ watched this one at our last sailing and all enjoyed it: hard to believe that it’s almost 30 years old.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 8th

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

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

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

Wednesday 9th

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

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

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM at 11.10am)

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

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

Thursday 10th

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

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

Friday 11th

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


Footnote. Anthony Horowitz was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, Thursday 3rd.