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

In the USA, broadcasts of Sherlock Holmes radio adaptations began eight years earlier than in Britain with William Gillette playing Holmes and Leigh Lovell as Watson in The Speckled Band in 1930.

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!

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