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:


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.