Archive for May, 2010

I hear of Sherlock everywhere [GREE] – British Radio Part 2

In Part 2 we start in 1983 with a humorous series of six programmes entitled “The Second Holmes” (no jokes about MPs’ expenses please!). This starred Peter Egan as Stamford Holmes – supposedly Sherlock’s grandson – and Jeremy Nicholas as my grandson! I have located a source for recordings of these shows and so will reserve my judgement until I have listened to them.

Another one-off programme followed in 1986 with Tim Piggot-Smith (Holmes) and Andrew Hilton (Watson) in The Valley of Fear.

In 1987 a series of twenty four adaptations from the Canon were produced which were intended to be heard by passengers on British Airways long-haul flights. These starred Roy Marsden as Holmes and John Moffatt in my role. Although not intended for the radio, six of the shows were aired on the BBC World Service so they are included here for completeness. So far I have been unable to track down recordings of these shows.

Then, in 1988, the BBC aired a one-off production of The Hound of the Baskervilles in two one-hour episodes with Roger Rees as Holmes and Crawford Logan as Watson. So began Bert Coules long association with Sherlock Holmes.

The programmes were such a great success that it was decided to do two more novels [STUD, SIGN] but with a new cast as Roger Rees was not available. Clive Merrison took the part of Holmes and Michael Williams in what is, in my opinion, the best portrayal of myself on the radio.

Again these were succcessful and the fifty-six short stories were dramatised in five series following the order of the stories as they usually appear in the collections – The Adventures, The Memoirs, The Return, His Last Bow and The Case-Book. Finally the two remaining novels [VALL, HOUN] were produced, the latter with the new leading players making Merrison and Williams the only actors to have played Holmes and Watson across the complete Canon of sixty stories.

This series ended in 1998 but the stories are regularly broadcast on BBC7 and are available as a boxed set or separately in eighteen volumes.

Whilst this series was running, a series of six non-canonical tales were broadcast in 1993 on BBC Radio 5. The Unopened Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, written by John Taylor, has a slightly humorous and bizarre slant to it with Simon Callow as Holmes and Nicky Henson as me. A book of the stories is available as are recordings of the programmes. I have also heard that towards the end of November this year there will be four new adventures entitled “The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries”.

Then in 1999 there were six episodes of The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. When I tell you that the last episode concerned a gas-powered pornography ring and Holmes is played by Roy Hudd you will, I hope, understand that this is a comedy series! As far as I know, there are no commercially available recordings but they were played on BBC 7 late last year and again recently.

This is not Roy Hudd’s only connection with the Great Detective. He played John Gedgrave in the Granada Sherlock Holmes production of The Dying Detective.

He also appeared in The Singular Inheritance of Miss Gloria Wilson which presents a pleasing explanation to the strange disappearance of Mr. James Philimore (played by an unusually restrained Roy Hudd) as mentioned in Thor Bridge and is one of The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which Bert Coules wrote and produced based on some of the other cases that I mentioned that Holmes was involved in but, for one reason or another, I have never put into print.

It is The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes that rounds off Part 2 of Holmes on British Radio. I have already given some details of this series here.

So, without further adieu we now begin to look across the Atlantic to Holmes on American Radio. Tune in next time for more exciting adventures!

I hear of Sherlock everywhere [GREE] – British Radio Part 1

When I started to look into Holmes on the radio I expected to be able to cover it in a single post. However, the amount of material available proved to be too large and, although broadcasts of Holmes stories started in the USA (1930) before those in Britian (1938), I have decided to start with Britain first where, almost exclusively, the stories have remained close to the Canon.

So, there were five individual broadcasts of Holmes stories between 1938 and 1948.

  1. Silver Blaze with Frank Wyndham Goldie as Holmes and Hugh Harben as my good self was the first on 12th April 1938.
  2. The Boscome Valley Mystery with Arthur Wontner (Holmes) and Carleton Hobbs (Watson) on 3rd July 1943.
  3. The Speckled Band with Sir Cedric Hardwicke (Holmes) and Finlay Currie (Watson) on 10th May 1945.
  4. Silver Blaze (again) with Laidman Browne (Holmes) and Norman Shelley (Watson).
  5. The Speckled Band (again) Howard Marion-Crawford (Holmes) with Finlay Currie (again as Watson).

Of note here are Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley as Watson. In 1952 these two actors were to become the best known players of Holmes (Hobbs) and Watson (Shelley) on British radio. Also of note is that Sir Cedric Hardwicke is the father of Edward Hardwicke who played me alongside Jeremy Brett‘s TV Holmes.

No recording of any of the above broadcasts are known to exist.

Carleton Hobbs as Holmes and Norman Shelley as Watson started on the 15th October 1952 in the BBC Children’s Hour programme with 17 stories from the Canon.

Three were broadcast in 1952 [NAVA, FIVE, BLUE]. On 3rd Jauary 1953 they appeared in an “adult” adaptation of the William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle play called simply “Sherlock Holmes”.

The BBC Children’s Hour programmes continued in 1953 with two more stories [3STU, REDH], two more in 1954 [NORW, BRUC], four in 1955 [MISS, COPP, FINA, MAZA] and finally six in 1957 repeating some that had previously been broadcast [NAVA, FIVE, BLUE, REDH, 3STU, FINA].

A six-part adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles was broadcast in 1958 and then in 1959 a series of six programmes were broadcast [TWIS, BERY, BLAC, COPP, NOBL, SHOS]. Another series, of seven shows, was broadcast in 1960 [STOC, NAVA, GREE, CARD, LADY, ENGN, ILLU]. These were all new scripts, adapted by Michael Hardwick and did not repeat the Children’s Hour broadcasts.

In 1960 there was a 90 minute presentation of The Valley of Fear and then in 1961 a 30 minute Black Peter followed by a 90 minute The Hound of the Baskervilles before a series of seven programmes running into 1962 [EMPT, REIG, RESI, CHAS, BLUE, THOR, PRIO]. Continuing in 1962 was a new series of eight programmes [SPEC, SILV, MUSG, GOLD, MISS, ABBE, DEVI, MAZA] followed by a 90 minute A Study In Scarlet.

There was a repeat of The Speckled Band at the end of 1962 and of The Missing Three-Quarter and The Musgrave Ritual at the start of 1963 followed by a 90 minute The Sign of the Four.

A series of ten shows were aired in 1964 [ABBE, MAZA, SOLI, BRUC, 3GAR, NORW, SUSS, REDH, 3GAB, RETI] some repeating earlier broadcasts. A five-show series of repeats [3GAR, NORW, SUSS, REDH, 3GAB] ran over the end of the year into 1965.

A nine-show series ran in 1966 [SCAN, FIVE, SIXN, BOSC, CROO, WIST, DYIN, SECO, FINA] but it was 1969 before a final series of six episodes [DANC, IDEN, BLAC, REDC, LION, LAST] was broadcast.

Ten repeats were broadcast in 1969 [REDH, RETI, COPP, SIXN, 3GAR, GREE, SUSS, BOSC, FIVE, FINA] but that was the last of the Hobbs and Shelley portrayals. In the whole period from 1953 to 1966, 56 of the 60 stories from the Canon were produced. Only The Yellow Face, The Gloria Scott, The Creeping Man and The Veiled Lodger were not performed.

Recordings of many of these broadcasts can be found at the Sherlock Holmes Adventures Podcast (subscribe by iTunes to get them all) and, of course, there are the twelve recordings recently released by the BBC.

Early in the Hobbs and Shelley era (whilst they were still producing the Children’s Hour versions), Sir John Gielgud (Holmes) and Sir Ralph Richardson (Watson) appeared in a series of twelve shows in 1954 that started with “Dr Watson Meets Sherlock Holmes” – an adaptation of Charles Augustus Milverton. This was followed by SCAN, REDH, BRUC, IDEN, DYIN, SECO, NORW, SOLI, SIXN, BLUE and FINA (in which Orson Welles played Moriarty!) Four additional shows [SPEC, SILV, GOLD, EMPT] were produced but only aired in the USA following the other twelve in 1955. Many of these shows can be found at the Sherlock Holmes Adventures Podcast and also on Sherlock Holmes A Baker Street Dozen (most are also available as MP3 downloads).

There was also a one-off production of The Sign of Four in 5 weekly episodes in 1959 with Richard Hurndall as Holmes and Bryan Coleman as my good self.

In 1967, nine shows with Robert Langford as Holmes and Kenneth Baker as Watson were heard in South Africa on the South African Broadcasting Corporation. These are included here because they were dramatised by Michael Hardwick and probably used the same scripts as the Hobbs and Shelley series. They included SUSS, RETI, 3 GAB, ILLU, COPP, NOBL, BLAN, REIG, and THOR and can be found on the internet.

In 1974 there was a one-off programme with Robert Powell as Holmes and Dinsdale Landon as me in A Study In Scarlet. This is available in two parts in the Sherlock Holmes Public Library.

Then in 1978 there was a series of thirteen programmes [REDH, MUSG, SILV, NAVA, PRIO, CHAS, COPP, BLUE, REIG, SOLI, SIXN, ABBE, LADY] with Barry Foster as Holmes and David Buck as me. These were, as I understand it, the first to be recorded in “binaural stereo”. Also, as far as I know, these are not commercially available but the Sherlock Holmes Adventures Podcast has recently started transmitting them.

My next post will cover the remainder of Holmes on British Radio including a couple of humorous series, one with (supposedly) Holmes grandson, Stamford Holmes and the other about the Holmes “Newly Discovered Case-Book”, a series entitled “The Unopened Casebook of Sherlock Holmes“, a series of twenty four stories from the Canon produced for British Airways and finally the first complete coverage of the Canon in the series produced by Bert Coules. Then I will move on to Holmes on American radio including the long running series with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

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