News Bulletin 62

Alex Kane’s Viewer & Listener Guide:

January 14 – 20, 2012.

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

 It’s actually a busy old week on the Holmes front. Not much new, mind you, but some old favourites along the way.

 As ever, please send me any snippets or extras that you think I have missed along the way:


Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles (ITV3 on Freeview10 or Freesat115 also Sky119/Virgin117 at 11.15am) First shown in August 1988, 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 for Blackstone AudioBooks.

The Saturday Play: Tom and Viv (BBC Radio 4 at 2.30pm) A very good performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as poet T.S. Eliot. Eliot has a couple of Holmesian connections: ‘Macavity, the Mystery Cat’ is, of course, Moriarty in feline form: and traces of the Musgrave Ritual can be found in ‘Murder in the Cathedral.’

Sherlock:The Hounds of Baskerville (BBC3 on Freeview7/Freesat106 also /Sky115/Virgin106 at 7.00pm) A repeat of the second episode, shown last Sunday. I will review all three episodes next week, but so far I’m finding this second series fairly hard going.

Watch episode 1 here (for a limited period only).

Watch episode 2 here (for a limited period only).


The Woman in Green, 1945 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin 415 at 7.45pm) This was the 11th in the 14 Rathbone/Bruce series and is clearly not one of the best. Moriarty—already killed off in two other films—was back, this time played by Henry Daniell (Rathbone’s favourite Moriarty, by the way). And after the success of Gale Sondergaard as Spider Woman the previous year, we have the lovely Hillary Brooke as Lydia Marlowe, the Woman in Green.

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

Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall (BBC1 at 9.00pm) Final episode of the present series: and I really, really, really hope that it is better than the last two! OK, maybe it’s just me, but I’m just not enjoying this series this time round. Note later time!

Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Action/Adventure on Sky305 or Virgin405 at 10.10pm) 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.


Inspector Alleyn (Radio4 Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am)

Episode 1—A Man Lay Dead. Inspector Roderick Alleyn was the creation of Ngaio Marsh and appeared in a series of thirty-two novels between 1934 and 1982. A gentleman detective of the old school he belongs to the Golden Age of detective fiction and has occasional touches of Holmes to his style. In this series of four adaptations he is played by Jeremy Clyde, who played Holmes in “The Great Detective” episode of the “Crime Writers” series in 1978

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 on Sky119/Virgin 117 at 8.05am)

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.”

The Woman in Green, 1945 (TCM on Sky317/Virgin415 at 11.30) SEE SUNDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.05pm)

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.’


Inspector Alleyn (Radio4 Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am)

Episode 2—Opening Night SEE MONDAY

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

Series 6, Episode 3—The Golden Pince-Nez (March 21, 1994) SEE MONDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.10pm)

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.


Inspector Alleyn (Radio4 Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am)

Episode 3—When In Rome SEE MONDAY

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

Series 6, Episode 4—The Red Circle (March 28, 1994) SEE TUESDAY

Who Shot Sherlock? (Channel 5 at 2.15pm) This is from series 5 (2005) of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. This remains a hugely successful series in America, although I gave up watching a few years ago. The lead character, Gil Grissom, (played by William Petersen) has Holmesian characteristics, as noted on Wiki:

“Gil Grissom has a more than passing similarity to Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, Grissom is dispassionate with a fierce devotion to logic and little regard for societal norms of behavior; Grissom once smashed mustard jars in a grocery store to illustrate a theory (“I-15 Murders“), similarly, Holmes once practiced spearing a pig at a market to determine how strong a man would have to be to transfix a man with a harpoon.

“Grissom possesses a Moriarty-like nemesis, Paul Millander, whom he pursues in several episodes (“Pilot”, “Anonymous” and “Identity Crisis”). Coincidentally, “Paul Millander” has the same initials as “Professor Moriarty.” There’s also a woman, Lady Heather, in whom he takes an unusual interest. Their relationship is similar to that of Irene Adler and Holmes. Both Irene and Lady Heather enchant Holmes and Grissom with their beauty, their wit and their resolution. Lady Heather often wears Victorian-style dresses referencing Holmes’ era (“Slaves of Las Vegas“, “Lady Heather’s Box“, “Pirates of the Third Reich” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Dominatrix“)

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm)

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’.

Dressed to Kill, 1946 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 7.35pm) 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.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 7.50pm and 12.50am)

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.


Inspector Alleyn (Radio4Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) Episode 4—A Surfeit of Lampreys SEE MONDAY

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

Series 6, Episode 5—The Mazarin Stone (April 4, 1994) SEE WEDNESDAY

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.00pm)

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.

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.


Murder by the Book (Radio4 Extra at 6am, 1pm, 8pm and 1am) A delightful little play with Mary Wimbush and Doreen Mantle as two elderly librarians who decide to investigate when a corpse is found in the crime section of the library. We are on very firm Miss Marple territory! Mary Wimbush played Mrs. Maberley in the Merrison/Williams version of ‘The Three Gables’ in 1994. She was married to Howard Marion-Crawford, who had played Watson to Ronald Howard’s Holmes in the 1954 television series; and he also played Holmes in a 1948 radio version of ‘The Speckled Band.’ Doreen Mantle is probably best known for playing Mrs Warboys, neighbour of Victor Meldrew in ‘One Foot In The Grave.’ Episode 3 of the first series was called “The Valley of Fear,” while episode 6 was “The Return of the Speckled Band.” 

Series 6, Episode 6—The Cardboard Box (April 11, 1994) SEE THURSDAY

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Sky119/Virgin117 at 4.05pm)

Season 1, Episode 1—A Scandal In Bohemia (April 24, 1984) SEE WEDNESDAY

From Hell (Sky Crime/Thriller on Sky307/Virgin407 at 11.00pm) 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 2001 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.

BBC Radio4 Extra can be heard on any of the following: DAB/Freeview708/Freesat708 also Sky0131/Virgin910. It’s also available online at

For BBC Radio4, check national variations. It’s also available at