27th June, 1 Comment
By John Watson
4th – The Carleton Hobbs Sherlock Holmes Further Collection with Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley (with introductions by Nicholas Utechin)
A further collection of Sherlock Holmes dramas, starring Carleton Hobbs, from the BBC Radio Archive. In this these twelve classic stories, Carleton Hobbs established the ‘sound’ of Sherlock Holmes, with Norman Shelley as his superb Watson. Collected together on CD for the first time, with a specially commissioned introduction by Nicholas Utechin, former Editor of “The Sherlock Holmes Journal”. This collection includes: “The Copper Beeches”, “Thor Bridge”, “The Sussex Vampire”, “The Three Garridebs”, “The Three Gables”, “The Retired Colourman”, “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”, “The Crooked Man”, “The Cardboard Box”, “A Case of Identity”, “The Naval Treaty”, and “The Noble Bachelor”.
1st – A Brief History of Sherlock Holmes by Nigel Cawthorne
Sherlock Holmes continues to have a perennial allure as the ultimate sleuth. As Holmes is being re-introduced to a new audience through TV and film, Cawthorne introduces the general reader to Holmes including his resurrection following his unlikely death at the hands of arch enemy, Moriarty. Cawthorne also surveys the world of Holmes, looking at Victorian crime, myself and Inspector Lestrade, as well as the world on the doorstep of 221B Baker Street.
6th – Pirate King: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie King
In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, at the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities that swirl around Fflytte’s popular movie studio. So Russell is traveling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King. Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, the project will either set the standard for moviemaking for a generation . . . or sink a boatload of careers.
Nothing seems amiss until the enormous company starts rehearsals in Lisbon, where the thirteen blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses whom Mary is bemusedly chaperoning meet the swarm of real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity. But when the crew embarks for Morocco and the actual filming, Russell feels a building storm of trouble: a derelict boat, a film crew with secrets, ominous currents between the pirates, decks awash with budding romance—and now the pirates are ignoring Fflytte and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Plus, there’s a spy on board. Where can Sherlock Holmes be? As movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout.
1st – The House of Silk – by Andrew Horowitz
The book is set in 1890, but as written by me in a retirement home (Mrs Hudson may have something to say about that), a year after the death of Holmes. The story opens with a train robbery in Boston, and moves to the innocuous setting of Wimbledon – but, Holmes says, the tale was too monstrous, too appalling to reveal until now. “It is no exaggeration to say it could tear apart the very fabric of society”, he writes in the prologue.
24th – Study In Sherlock edited by Laurie King and Leslie Klinger
Neil Gaiman, Laura Lippman and Lee Child are just three of 18 superstar authors who provide fascinating, thrilling and utterly original perspectives on Sherlock Holmes in this one-of-a-kind book. These modern masters place the sleuth in suspenseful new situations, create characters that solve Holmesian mysteries, contemplate Holmes in his later years, fill gaps in the Sherlock Holmes canon and reveal their own personal obsessions with the infamous detective. It is the perfect tribute and a collection of twisting, clever studies of a timeless icon.
5th – An Entirely New Country – Arthur Conan Doyle, Undershaw and the Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes by Alistair Duncan
The late 1890s saw Arthur Conan Doyle return to England after several years abroad. His new house, named Undershaw, represented a fresh start but it was also the beginning of a dramatic decade that saw him fall in love, stand for parliament, fight injustice and be awarded a knighthood. However, for his many admirers, the most important event of that decade was the return of Sherlock Holmes – the character that he felt had cast a shadow over his life.
6th – The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume 3 by Anthony Boucher and Denis Green
More radio adventures with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
I will add to the list as I become aware of new releases that I may want to add to my collection . . .
7th May, 1 Comment
By John Watson
The Hound of the Baskervilles is most people’s favourite Holmes adventure and it has been the subject of many radio adaptations and over half a dozen films. For many it was their first encounter with Holmes, as played by Basil Rathbone in the version bearing the full title “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles”. I will gloss over for the moment how my literary agent seems to take most of the credit!
I envy those who have never heard the story before whose suspicions of everyone but the real villain are aroused by the events as they unfold in my narrative.
Laurence Owen has been working on this new version for four months and he describes it as a labour of love. He says that his parents introduced him to my accounts when he was very young and he has been hooked ever since. It has been something of a life ambition to have a stab at an adaptation himself. He has assembled his cast (including himself), recorded and edited the performance, adding sound effects (some subtle, some quite startling) and composed and added a musical score. He calls it a “radio film” and he feels that The Hound lends itself particularly well to sound or radio adaptations. Many filmed versions of The Hound have been criticised because of the feeble nature of the actual hound (in one example leading a reviewer to refer to the poor creature as “The dog that did nothing in the night-time”). Owen prefers to create an image in the listener’s imagination using only sound.
In choosing The Hound, he mentions that he is also keen on The Creeping Man, The Speckled Band and in particular The Devil’s Foot, indicating a preference with the gothic, although he thinks that if The Hound is well-received, he might consider The Blue Carbuncle (hardly a gothic story!) as it would give him lots of interesting sound effects to simulate – markets, geese, drunken rows etc. – as well as a nice Christmas-themed soundtrack to compose.
The result of all his labours with The Hound is a very atmospheric production, true to my original story in almost all respects, that is best listened to, as Owen suggests, in complete darkness, though if you’re holding the glass of brandy as he also suggests, you may lose its entire contents!
I noticed two characters were missing from the plot – I will leave you to work out who they are. One was excluded because of time constraints (see later) – the other to enhance the drama in one of the key scenes near the end.
The recording is available as a stereo podcast and will also be available in 5.1 surround sound that will take “listeners on a chilling and unforgettable sonic journey” and this is where the time constraints mentioned earlier become important.
Owen will eventually play the piece in a theatrical setting, in complete darkness, in surround sound. For this reason its length needs to be reasonably short, since the piece demands quite a lot of attention from its audience.
This surround sound version will be presented as a cinema or theatre style performance, for people to enjoy as a group. The idea is that they come along to a designated venue, as they would with a movie or a play, and experience a radio-style piece together in total darkness. This is very rarely done, and it is hoped that it will encourage the audience’s imaginations to really come into their own. This version of the piece is still in development, and we await further information about these performances. The current plan is to present them in Fringe theatre style environments, and as such will be ticketed events. Look out for The Hound of the Baskervilles at next year’s Brighton and Edinburgh festivals.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is available from Corporate Records, which provides a new way for performers (mainly musicians) to share, sell and promote their work. Performers can sell single tracks or group them into multiple albums, set minimum prices or use a pay-what-you-like system, embed their tracks in blogs and share static download links on Twitter and Facebook.
The album version of The Hound of the Baskervilles is now available.
A promotional video can also be found on You Tube at The Hound is Released!
28th January, 3 Comments
By John Watson
In relating the details of the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as released on CD and their orginal broadcasts on American radio, it is worth noting that amongst those written by Denis Green and Anthony Boucher, several of these broadcasts have been written up as stories and these stories can be found in two volumes.
The Lost Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Ken Greewald, includes the following stories. Greenwald mentions on the flyleaf that each story is based on an incident in one of my original stories and I have appended these to each title as the usual abbreviation. I have also given the Volume number if the story appears in the CD collection and the date of the orginal radio broadcast.
- The Adventure of the Second Generation [SCAN, 17th December 1945, V2]
- The April Fool’s Adventure [STUD, 1st April 1946, V1]
- The Case of the Amateur Medicants [FIVE, 2nd April 1945, V1]
- The Adventure of the Out-of-Date Murder [WIST, 9th September 1945, V2]
- The Case of the Demon Barber [YELL, 28th January 1946, V1]
- Murder Byond the Mountains [EMPT, 15th January 1946]
- The Case of the Uneasy Easy Chair [MUSG, 13th May 1946, V1]
- The Case of the Baconian Cipher [ SIGN, 27th May 1946]
- The Adventure of the Headless Monk [DEVI, 15th April 1945, V1]
- The Case of the Camberwell Poisoners [FIVE, 18th February 1946]
- The Adventure of the Iron Box [SILV, 31st December 1945, V2]
- The Case of the Girl with Gazelle [FINA, 25th May 1946, V1]
- The Adventure of the Notorious Canary Trainer [WIST, 23rd April 1945]
The Forgotten Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by H Paul Jeffers, includes the following stories.
Again I have the Volume number if the story appears in the CD collection (only the first two in this case) and the date of the orginal radio broadcast.
Where there is a link to the original stories I have mentioned these.
- In Flanders Fields [14th May 1945, V2]
- The Paradol Chamber [FIVE, 21st May 1945,V1]
- The Accidental Murderess [26th November 1945]
- The Adventure of the Blarney Stone [18th March 1946]
- The Book of Tobit [26th March 1945]
- The Haunting of Sherlock Holmes [20th May 1946]
- The Adventure of the Stuttering Ghost [12th October 1946]
- The Clue of the Hungry Cat [26th October 1946]
- The Singular Affair of the Dying Schoolboys [9th November 1946]
- The Adventure of the Sally Martin [23rd November 1946]
- The Adventure of the Grand Old Man [21st December 1946]
- The Darlington Substitution [SCAN, 4th January 1947]
- The Adventure of Maltree Abbey [31st May 1947]
Both of the books are out of print but there are second-hand copies available at reasonable prices.
Most of these broadcasts are available from the Sherlock Holmes Adventures Podcast and elsewhere on the Internet.
It is interesting to compare these written stories with their radio counterparts. The authors of these collections have done an excellent job, particulary Jeffers, in maintaining the style of my original stories.
4th January, 1 Comment
By John Watson
I have several books to review. These include Mr Holmes and Dr Watson – Their Strangest Cases by Edith Meiser, The Official Papers Into The Matter Known As The Hound of the Baskervilles (DCC/1435/89 refers) by Kieron Freeburn, The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes edited by Tony Reynolds, a series of books by Molly Carr including The Sign of Fear, A Study In Crimson and In Search of Doctor Watson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and Devon, a tour guide by Brian Pugh, Paul Spiring and Sadru Bhanji. There is also the audiobook, The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries by John Taylor read by Benedict Cumberbatch that I have yet to review.
New books expected this year include Watson’s Afghan Adventure – How Sherlock Holmes’ Dr.Watson Became an Army Doctor due January 24th, Reasoning Backwards: Sherlock Holmes’ Guide to Effective Problem Solving due March 1st, The Sherlock Holmes School of Self-Defence: The Manly Art of Bartitsu: as Used Against Professor Moriarty, due April 27th, and The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes due any day now.
Finally, in the books section, I will be looking at a series of children’s reading books based on the Sherlock Holmes stories from Lerner Books.
I have also received a DVD of Robert Stephens in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The BBC Sherlock Holmes Collection (which includes Peter Cushing in A Study in Scarlet, The Boscombe Valley Mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of Four and the Blue Carbuncle, Richard Roxburgh in another version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Rupert Everett in The Case of the Silk Stocking, and Douglas Henshall in The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle) and Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes.
So, all in all, it looks like a busy year for all those who admire the best and wisest man whom I have ever known.
12th July, 5 Comments
By John Watson
At the end of Part 1, I said the heyday of Holmes on the radio in the USA was coming to an end with the series of 39 shows with Ben Wright as Holmes and Eric Snowden taking my part. This series lasted until June 1950.
Then, after a gap of five years, in 1955 the shows with the Gielgud and Richardson pairing mentioned in British Radio Part 1 were broadcast in the USA in a different order and with four extra shows. These were repeated in 1956.
In 1959, 36 of the Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley shows were aired for the first time in the USA.
Then after what appears to be a very long gap, in 1977 the CBS Mystery Theatre broadcast eleven shows with Kevin McCarthy as Holmes and Cort Benson as Watson. These shows are all from the Canon and include HOUN, SIGN, STUD, REDH, BOSC, SPEC, SCAN, BLUE, BERY, IDEN and GLOR.
I can then find details of three more CBS Mystery Theatre shows, all with Gordon Gould as Holmes but with a different Watson in each case – MUSG with Lloyd Batesta in 1981, NAVA with Bernard Grant in 1982, and NAVA again later in 1982 with William Griffiths.
Nine years later in 1991, Edward Petherbridge appeared as Holmes with David Peart as Watson in STUD followed by VALL, FIVE, TWIS, SILV, GREE, SCAN, BLUE, SPEC, BRUC, NOBL, SIXN and HOUN stretching into 1993.
I also have a note of a production of HOUN with Nicol Williamson and George Rose but I have no date for this and I cannot tell whether this is a radio broadcast or not.
There are two more series, both of which are still running and produced by Jim French for the Imagination Theatre. The first of these, The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are all pastiches with Lawrence Albert as Watson but with a succession of different actors playing Holmes. These include John Gilbert, John Patrick Lowrie and Denis Bateman. In one episode, Watson (played by Lawrence Albert) impersonates Holmes and works with Mycroft in that episode and the previous one. Over 90 episodes have been produced (at the end of 2009) and scripts and recordings are available.
Following on from this, Jim French started another series in 2005 called The Classic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with John Patrick Lowrie as Holmes and Lawrence Albert again as Watson. This time they are all stories from the Canon and, as of March 2010, 23 shows have been produced.
So this brings this series itself to an end. The previous parts were:
- Sherlock Holmes on British Radio – Part 1
- Sherlock Holmes on British Radio – Part 2
- Sherlock Holmes on American Radio – Part 1
But, before I go I must acknowledge the following sources without whom this series could not have been produced:
- Allen Eyles “Sherlock Holmes – A Centenary Celebration“, John Murray 1986 ISBN 0-7195-4332-0
- Hugo Brown’s VV341 – The Valley of Fear website
- Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs website
- Frank M Passages Old Time Radio Program Logs (scroll down the list to Sherlock Holmes and other related series such as “Second Holmes”)
There are still some broadcasts that I am trying to track down but if anyone knows about any that I have missed then please drop me a line care of 221B Baker Street.
28th June, No Comments
By John Watson
This first ever radio broadcast of a Sherlock Holmes story was followed a week later with another actor, Clive Brook, playing Holmes and again with Leigh Lovell as me in A Scandal in Bohemia, and then a week after that by The Red-Headed League.
There then began and almost continuous stream of adaptations through to 1950.
1933 – Richard Gordon took over the role of Holmes from Clive Brook. With Leigh Lovell as Watson they recorded 59 of the 60 stories in the Canon only leaving out The Valley of Fear and missing out on the record set by Clive Merrison and Michael Williams 50 years later. Many of the other stories they recorded are new or based on my unrecorded cases.
1934 – Luis Hector took over the role of Holmes for 12 new stories.
1935 – Harry West took over the role of Watson for 37 episodes which were a mixture of new stories and stories from the Canon.
Two interesting facts about these series are that they were all written or adapted by Edith Meiser and that they were all announced by one Joseph Bell!
1939 – Reprising their popular roles from their two 20th Century Fox films, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce appeared as Holmes and Watson in over 200 episodes over six years. They covered 50 stories from the Canon and many new stories.
1945 – Edith Meiser was replaced as the writer by Denis Green, Bruce Taylor and Anthony Boucher in what was to be Basil Rathbone’s last series as Holmes. As I have recorded elsewhere, Rathbone felt that his association with Holmes was getting in the way of other work (echoes of Arthur Conan Doyle here!)
1946 – Tom Conway took over the role of Holmes whilst Nigel Bruce stayed as Watson. In this series of 39 episodes there are only seven tales from the Canon.
1947 – John Stanley took over as Holmes and Alfred Shirley replaced Nigel Bruce as Watson for 39 shows with Edith Meiser returning as the writer with usual mixture of stories.
1948 – Ian Martin became Watson for the first show of a new series of 39 shows and was then replaced by Oliver Wendell Holmes. To avoid any confusion caused by someone called Holmes playing Watson he assumed the stage name of George Spelvin. Again a mixture of tales but this time written by Howard Merrill and Max Ehrlich.
1949 – George Shelton takes over the role of Holmes and Ian Martin back as Watson for 23 stories. This was followed by what was the last series on American Radio with 39 stories starring Ben Wright as Holmes and Eric Snowden as Watson. Denis Green was the writer for this series.
The heyday of Holmes on the radio in the USA was coming to an end. But there are a few loose ends to tie up in Part 2 coming soon!
Posted in Radio
8th May, No Comments
By John Watson
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.
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.
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!
Posted in Radio
6th May, 5 Comments
By John Watson
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.
- Silver Blaze with Frank Wyndham Goldie as Holmes and Hugh Harben as my good self was the first on 12th April 1938.
- The Boscome Valley Mystery with Arthur Wontner (Holmes) and Carleton Hobbs (Watson) on 3rd July 1943.
- The Speckled Band with Sir Cedric Hardwicke (Holmes) and Finlay Currie (Watson) on 10th May 1945.
- Silver Blaze (again) with Laidman Browne (Holmes) and Norman Shelley (Watson).
- 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. I have not been able to find a recording of any of these shows.
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.
Posted in Radio
25th January, 2 Comments
By John Watson
The BBC has released a set of three volumes of cases from the Canon starring Carleton Hobbs as Holmes and Norman Shelley as my good self.
Carleton Hobbs portrayed Sherlock Holmes in 80 radio adaptations although he had played myself once with Arthur Wontner as Holmes in a wartime production of The Boscombe Valley Mystery.
Each of the twelve stories, has a specially commissioned introduction by Nicholas Utechin, former Editor of The Sherlock Holmes Journal.
- A Scandal in Bohemia
- The Red-Headed League
- Charles Augustus Milverton
- The Speckled Band
- The Blue Carbuncle
- Silver Blaze
- The Final Problem
- The Empty House
- The Musgrave Ritual
- The Blanched Soldier
- The Bruce-Partington Plans
- The Dancing Men
BBC 7 ran a competition to win this set of CDs autographed on the sleeve by Nicholas Utechin, plus an autographed hard back copy of “Stage Whispers“, actor Douglas Wilmer’s memoirs (Douglas played Holmes in the first BBC 1965 TV series). Three questions were posed:
- In which year did Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley start this series? (1952)
- What was the name of the radio slot that the programme featured in? (Children’s Hour)
- On which station was it broadcast? (The Home Service)
The competition is now closed and the winners have been announced.
14th January, 3 Comments
By John Watson
Each volume contains 12 stories, some with Canonical connections, marked below with a “C” if they are based on actual stories or with an “R” if they are merely cases that I mentioned in the stories.
Volume I comprises:
- The Unfortunate Tobacconist [R]
- The Paradol Chamber
- The Viennese Strangler
- The Notorious Canary Trainer [R] [L]
- The April Fool’s Day Adventure [L]
- The Strange Case of the Uneasy Easy Chair [L]
- The Strange Case of the Demon Barber [L]
- The Mystery of the Headless Monk [L]
- The Amateur Medicant Society [R] [L]
- The Case of the Vanishing White Elephant
- The Case of the Limping Ghost
- The Girl with the Gazelle [L]
Volume II comprises:
- The Case of the Out of Date Murder [L]
- The Waltz of Death
- Colonel Warburton’s Madness [R]
- The Iron Box [L]
- A Scandal in Bohemia [C]
- The Second Generation [L]
- In Flanders Fields
- The Eyes of Mr Leyton
- The Tell Tale Pigeon Feathers
- The Indescretion of Mr Edwards
- The Problem of Thor Bridge [C]
- The Double Zero
From October 1939 to July 1947 Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce starred in 220 episodes (though Bruce missed one due to illness). By 1947 Rathbone wanted to dissociate himself from the character of Holmes. Neverthe less he remains so closely associated with him that many still regard him as “the definitive Sherlock Holmes”.
Nigel Bruce continued for another two series with Tom Conway as Holmes.
These recordings include war-time announcements, original narrations and commercials for the shows sponsors.
There is a book by Ken Greewald who has taken some of these radio programmes and written them up as short stories. As well as the stories on the the CDs above (which I have marked with [L], the book also contains these three cases:
- Murder Beyond the Mountains
- The Case of the Baconian Cypher
- The Case of the Camberwell Poisoners
The book is called “The Lost Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and has a picture of Nigel Rathbone on the cover. The book is out of print but a second hand copy should be easy to come by. I appear to have written a short introduction to the stories in the book!