Sherlock Holmes with Carleton Hobbs

I have written many times about what was, before the Bert Coules adaptations, the most extensive collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, broadcast by the BBC. The BBC Radio 4 Extra broadcasts of the third series of these performances, starring Carleton Hobbs as Holmes, and Norman Shelley as me, is now underway, so I thought it worth reviewing the complete output from this duo, once again.

In total, Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley, appeared in 75 individual performances with four different adapters of my stories and nine different producers. Where the same story was performed more than once, with various adapters and producers, the cast and the scripts were also diverse.

Many of these broadcasts were repeated, often mixing performances with different adapters and producers, and understanding what recordings I have in my collection has been a challenge, but by using the BBC Genome database, I have managed to catalogue most of them.

The number in square brackets, for example “[23]” is the unique performance number and each broadcast title has a link to the programme in the BBC Genome database.

Short Stories Series 1 – Children’s Hour 1952-1953

This first series of five short stories, broadcast from 1952 to 1953 on the BBC Home Service, was dramatised by Felix Felton and produced by David Davis.

  1. The Naval Treaty (15 October 1952) [01]
  2. The Five Orange Pips (12 November 1952) [02]
  3. The Blue Carbuncle (10 December 1952) [03]
  4. The Red-Headed League (7 January 1953) [04]
  5. The Three Students (4 February 1953) [05]

Long Stories 1 – Sherlock Holmes 1953

In 1953, in the middle of the above series, a one-off programme was broadcast, dramatised and produced by Raymond Raikes. This is an adaptation based on the William Gillette play “Sherlock Holmes” performed on stage in 1899.

This broadcast appears to be the basis of the experimental stereo broadcast in 1958 also produced by Raymond Raikes.

  1. Sherlock Holmes (3 October 1953) [06]

Short Stories Series 2 – Children’s Hour 1954-1955

The second series, this time comprising six short stories, broadcast from 1954 to 1955 on the BBC Home Service, were again dramatised by Felix Felton and produced by David Davis.

  1. The Norwood Builder (7 October 1954) [07]
  2. The Bruce-Partington Plans (4 November 1954) [08]
  3. The Mazarin Stone (2 December 1954) [09]
  4. The Missing Three-Quarter (6 January 1955) [10]
  5. The Copper Beeches (3 February 1955) [11]
  6. The Final Problem (3 March 1955) [12]

Short Stories Series 3 – Children’s Hour 1957

The third series of six short stories, broadcast in 1957 on the BBC Home Service, was with the same adapter, Felix Felton, as the previous two series, but the producer this time was Martyn C Webster. The six stories are the five from the first series plus the last one from the second series.

  1. The Naval Treaty (11 October 1957) [13]
  2. The Five Orange Pips (18 October 1957) [14]
  3. The Blue Carbuncle (25 October 1957) [15]
  4. The Red-Headed League (1 November 1957) [16]
  5. The Three Students (8 November 1957) [17]
  6. The Final Problem (15 November 19570 [18]

Long Stories 2 – The Hound of the Baskervilles 1958

The Hound of the Baskervilles was broadcast in six episodes on the BBC Light Programme, dramatised by Felix Felton and produced by Patrick Dromgoole. These six episodes are all given the same unique performance number [19].

  1. The Baskerville Curse (6 April 1958) [19]
  2. Sir Henry Baskerville (13 April 1958) [19]
  3. Baskerville Hall (20 April 1958) [19]
  4. The Light on the Moor (27 April 1958) [19]
  5. Death on the Moor (4 May 1958) [19]
  6. The Final Ordeal (11 May 1958) [19]

Short Stories Series 4 – Thirty-Minute Theatre 1959

This fourth series consisted of six stories was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. They were dramatised by Michael Hardwick and produced by Frederick Bradnum. The Copper Beeches was broadcast as a different performance in Series 2.

  1. The Man with the Twisted Lip (12 May 1959) [20]
  2. The Beryl Coronet (30 June 1959) [21]
  3. The Blanched Soldier (4 August 1959) [22]
  4. The Copper Beeches (11 August 1959) [23]
  5. The Noble Bachelor (18 August 1959) [24]
  6. Shoscombe Old Place (25 August 1959) [25]

Short Stories Series 5 – Thirty-Minute Theatre 1960

The fifth series consisted of seven stories broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. The first of these, The Stockbroker’s Clerk, was produced by Frederick Bradnum who produced the previous series. The producer for the remaining six was Martyn C Webster. All seven were dramatised by Michael Hardwick. The Naval Treaty had been broadcast twice before – once in Series 1 and once in Series 3.

  1. The Stockbroker’s Clerk (23 February 1960) [26]
  2. The Naval Treaty (22 March 1960) [27]
  3. The Greek Interpreter (5 April 1960) [28]
  4. The Cardboard Box (19 April 1960) [29]
  5. The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax (3 May 1960) [30]
  6. The Engineer’s Thumb (17 May 1960) [31]
  7. The Illustrious Client (31 May 1960) [32]

Long Stories 3 – The Valley of Fear 1960

The Valley of Fear was broadcast in 1960 on the BBC Home Service. It was dramatised by Michael Hardwick and produced by Robin Midgely.

  1. The Valley of Fear (31 December 1960) [33]

Short Stories Series 6 – Black Peter 1961

This single story appears to be a one-off broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. It was dramatised by Alan Wilson and produced by Archie Campbell.

  1. Black Peter (5 March 1961) [34]

Long Stories 3 – Saturday-Night Theatre: The Hound of the Baskervilles 1961

This was the second time The Hound of the Baskervilles had been broadcast, this time on the BBC Home Service. It was dramatised by Felix Felton, who had done the 1958 version which was in six episodes, but this production was by Robin Midgley and had a different cast to the 1958 broadcasts.

  1. The Hound of the Baskervilles (5 August 1961) [35]

Short Stories Series 7 – 1961-1962

This series of seven stories was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. They were dramatised by Michael Hardwick and produced by Robin Midgely. The Blue Carbuncle had been broadcast twice before – once in Series 1 and once in Series 3.

  1. The Empty House (27 November 1961) [36]
  2. The Reigate Squires (4 December 1961) [37]
  3. The Resident Patient (11 December 1961) [38]
  4. Charles Augustus Milverton (18 December 1961) [39]
  5. The Blue Carbuncle (25 December 1961) [40]
  6. Thor Bridge (1 January 1962) [41]
  7. The Priory School (8 January 1962) [42]

Short Stories Series 8 – 1962

This series of eight stories was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. Again they were dramatised by Micheal Hardwick and produced by Robin Midgely. The Missing Three-Quarter and The Mazarin Stone had been broadcast before in Series 2.

  1. The Speckled Band (17 July 1962) [43]
  2. Silver Blaze (24 July 1962) [44]
  3. The Musgrave Ritual (31 July 1962) [45]
  4. The Golden Pince-Nez (7 August 1962) [46]
  5. The Missing Three-Quarter (14 August 1962) [47]
  6. The Abbey Grange (21 August 1962) [48]
  7. The Devil’s Foot (28 August 1962) [49]
  8. The Mazarin Stone (4 September 1962) [50]

Long Stories 4 – Saturday-Night Theatre: A Study in Scarlet 1962

A Study in Scarlet was broadcast on the BBC Home Service. It was dramatised by Michael Hardwick and produced by Robin Midgely.

  1. A Study in Scarlet (22 December 1962) [51]

Long Stories 5 – Saturday Night Theatre: The Sign of the Four 1963

The Sign of the Four was broadcast on the BBC Home Service. It was dramatised by Michael Hardwick and produced by Val Geilgud.

  1. The Sign of the Four (2 March 1963) [52]

Short Stories Series 9 – Sherlock Holmes Returns 1964

This was a series of ten stories broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. The first two were repeat broadcasts of the Robin Midgely productions of  The Abbey Grange [48] and The Mazarin Stone [50], so they are not included here.

The remaining eight stories were dramatised by Michael Hardwick and produced by Graham Gould. The Bruce-Partington Plans and The Norwood Builder had been broadcast before in Series 2 and The Red-Headed League had been broadcast before in Series 1 and Series 3.

  1. The Solitary Cyclist (21 August 1964) [53]
  2. The Bruce- Partington Plans (28 August 1964) [54]
  3. The Three Garridebs (4 September 1964) [55]
  4. The Norwood Builder (11 September 1964) [56]
  5. The Sussex Vampire (18 September 1964) [57]
  6. The Red-Headed League (25 September 1964) [58]
  7. The Three Gables (2 October 1964) [59]
  8. The Retired Colourman (9 October 1964) [60]

Short Stories Series 10 – Sherlock Holmes Again 1966-1967

This series of nine stories were broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. They were dramatised by Michael Hardwick and produced by Martyn C Webster. The Five Orange Pips had previously been broadcast in Series 3.

  1. A Scandal in Bohemia (21 November 1966) [61]
  2. The Five Orange Pips (28 November 1966) [62]
  3. The Six Napoleons (5 December 1966) [63]
  4. The Boscombe Valley Mystery (12 December 1966) [64]
  5. The Crooked Man (19 December 1966) [65]
  6. Wisteria Lodge (26 December 1966) [66]
  7. The Dying Detective (2 January 1967) [67]
  8. The Second Stain (9 January 1967) [68]
  9. The Final Problem (16 January 1967) [69]

Short Stories Series 11 – Sherlock Holmes 1969

This was the last series of stories starring Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley and was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 which had replaced the Light Programme at the end of September 1967. The six stories were dramatised by Michael Hardwick and produced by Graham Gould. Black Peter had been previously broadcast in Series 6.

  1. The Dancing Men (24 June 1969) [70]
  2. A Case of Identity (26 June 1969) [71]
  3. Black Peter (1 July 1969) [72]
  4. The Red Circle (3 July 1969) [73]
  5. The Lion’s Mane (8 July 1969) [74]
  6. His Last Bow (10 July 1969) [75]

Coverage of The Canon

Of the 56 short stories, all but four were performed by Hobbs and Shelley. These four are The Yellow Face, The Gloria Scott, The Creeping Man, and The Veiled Lodger.

The following were performed more than once by Hobbs and Shelley:

  • Three times
    • The Red-Headed League [04][16][58]
    • The Five Orange Pips [02][14][62]
    • The Blue Carbuncle [03][15][40]
    • The Naval Treaty [01][13][27]
    • The Final Problem [12][18][69]
  • Twice
    • The Copper Beeches [11][23]
    • The Mazarin Stone [09][50]
    • The Hound of the Baskervilles [19][35]
    • The Norwood Builder [07][56]
    • Black Peter [34][72]
    • The Three Students [05][17]
    • The Missing Three-Quarter [10][47]
    • The Bruce-Partington Plans [08][54]

I am now going through my collection of recordings to ascertain to which unique broadcast they belong . . .

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