40 Years Later, Jeremy Brett is Still the Best Sherlock Holmes

For all his faults, Holmes is at his core fiercely loyal to and truly values both his friends and the cause of justice.

Thank you, yes, this is a very good point that I’d forgotten. Yes, maybe a bit frustrating at times, but unquestionably a true and loyal friend.


I loved David Burke and Edward Hardwicke as Watson. Both are great.

I adored Sherlock. Benny was terrific, and Martin Freeman’s Watson was a BAMF. Still, mom and I found the final two “seasons” V disappointing, and the last was even worse than the preceding one.

We loved Elementary, but the writing wasn’t nearly as good as Sherlock. It was amusing in S01E15 when Sherlock’s former dealer tells Dr Watson, “I believe in Sherlock Holmes!” The Sherlomentary fandom erupted on tumblr - and elsewhere, one supposes - with “OMG He said The Thing! He said The Thing!”

Peter Cushing’s two turns as Mr Holmes were also great. Bonus: Christopher Lee’s role in Hound.

I’m pleased to see The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes mentioned above. I love that one. Bonus: Christopher Lee as Mycroft. Another bonus: Mycroft’s submarine, styled to be Nessie-ian, was found a few years ago where she sank during the making of the film. Couldn’t find any news stories about it, tho :frowning:

The 2002 tv movie of The Hound of the Baskervilles starring Richard Roxburgh and Ian Hart is worthwhile. Richard E Grant plays Stapleton, and is as delicious as usual.

Murder by Decree is another interesting Holmesian excursion, with Christopher Plummer and James Mason as Our Heroes. Bonus: Sir John Gielgud delivers the tale’s coup de grâce.

Some theorize that the great detective Nero Wolfe is the son of Sherlock Holmes, and The Woman, Irene Adler, is his mother. Ms Adler had an affair with Holmes while she was performing in the former Yugoslavia, and Mr Wolfe happened.

Sherlock Holmes in New York is not the greatest, but FFS: Roger Moore as Holmes, the invariably godly Patrick Macnee as Watson, John Huston as Moriarty, and Charlotte Rampling as The Woman.

The Seven Percent Solution with Nicol Williamson and Robert Duvall as Holmes and Watson, and Alan Arkin as Dr Freud is fantastic. Bonus: The inimitable Joel Grey in a brief but effective role.

Murder Rooms: Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes is an all-too-brief, beautifully done tv series. It stars the brilliant Ian Richardson as Dr Joseph Bell - Conan Doyle’s inspiration for Holmes - alongside Robin Laing, and later Charles Edwards as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Re: Holmes’ fandom:

Reaction to Mycroft’s introduction:


My reaction exactly.

My favourite quote (paraphrased):

Watson: “Holmes, we must act, a woman is in danger!”

Holmes, distracted: “Women are always dangerous, Watson.”

Freud: [significant glance at Holmes]


Yeah, Sherlock really tailed off quite badly, and we’d had such high expectations given how enjoyable it had been.

Oh you're no fun anymore

I was sad to see Seven Percent neglected above. When I first saw that one I was a kid. Olivier as the bewildered Moriarty was also excellent, of course.

ETA: Granada Holmes inspired me to find and read my grandpa’s beautiful old 1930-something complete Holmes. I read and re-read it until it fell apart on me. tophat-cry

After reading the stories, much as I adore Philip St. John Basil Rathbone MC, I could no longer watch his Holmes films with much enjoyment. I’d loved Nigel Bruce’s “buff-buff-buff” bumbling Watson, but came to dislike this portrayal of a brave and intelligent man who was far more than a comedic sidekick in Doyle’s tales.

I loved Granada’s Holmes episodes because they were soooo much closer to the orig stories than pretty much anything else produced up to then.


TalkTV ( a cable channel here in UK, specialising in ancient TV) was showing these a while back. Very much of their time. Possibly a version you might not have come across? Enjoy (well, ‘experience’, anyway).


Unless I missed it, I don’t think even your extensive list above mentioned Mr Holmes, with Ian McKellen as a very old Sherlock. Worth seeing.

I know this thread is about movie and TV adaptations, but I keep hoping that someone will put Laurie R. King’s excellent Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes stories on the screen. They should be ideal for adaptation.

(This trailer seems to be just King’s creation, not for a real movie…)


My long list just includes the films and tv shows/serieseses I remember right now, and have doubtless forgot some goodies. Such as…

I had entirely forgot Mr Holmes, with Sir Ian McKellen (who, upon his knighthood, was nicknamed “Serena” by Mr Stephen Fry). I can’t remember anything about it other than enjoying it. /shrug My BF musta got me quite drunk that particular night beer

Thanks for hipping me/us to that Laurie King snippet!


Oh, and Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, despite its stellar cast, is a wretched, disappointing AF film.

These do not sound familiar. Thanks!

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Be warned… IIRC (though I may be mistaken) there are no Conan Doyle plots - just Holmes and Watson solving mysteries the TV people of the day dreamt up, and which would make neat 30 minute episodes. I did find them moderately entertaining, though, if only as being typical of their day. It’s almost like a repertory company - the same actors turn up as assorted characters in different episodes. And I did think the characterisation of H&W was not too far from the original (dodgy scripts aside).



One of my aunts gave me The Complete Sherlock Holmes when I was a kid and I read the stories and loved them.

More recently, I was looking for something (anything) engaging on Audible and lo-and-behold, there was The Complete, narrated by Simon Vance, and zounds! It was free! Alas, the first few stories were dull- maybe you can only be amazed by A Study in Scarlet so many times - and by the sixth or seventh story the Edwardian racism @euansmith mentioned, combined with Conan Doyle’s towering misogyny had started to grate.

Also, and I know it’s sophomoric, but all the ejaculations (“‘Watson! I have it!’ he ejaculated,’ and “ ‘strewth! You’re the very devil!’ I ejaculated-“) just made the whole thing farcical.


Do they say them in the audiobooks? I don’t really audiobook but I spent many, many years reading books out loud and I took advice from some great English actor encountering contemporary film scripts. Second hand. I read an interview with an actor and they saw some old lag blocking out the script with black marker and asked did they have no lines, and they replied, no, these were all the instructions in the script for what they were to do and feel. I took that to heart reading to my children and it is a bit of a high wire act taking all those out and relying on yourself to express it all.

Little bit of rehearsal for a recording and I’d be confident though.

He phoned a load in for cash, and many of the problems people imagine are TV problems are actually issues Conan Doyle had in there. I didn’t watch the whole of his interview above but I would query what he was reading and how he solved the problem he thought existed.


Yes, The Redheaded League is a really fun one. So goofy.


Yes, the Seven Percent Solution is its own weird thing, and it’s really great.

And I think Martin Freeman is the best of the Watsons. He has the seriousness, courage, and humility that many Watsons lack. It goes without saying that Brett IS Holmes. And he does, in fact, look very much like the original illustrations from the Strand, gangly yet lithesome, always elegant.

It’s interesting to imagine Brett and Freeman playing Holmes and Watson together.


Such a terrific interpretation of such an incredible character - but I only wish I could enjoy ACD’s plots - they all rely on tricks that the reader could never have deduced from the information provided.

Reading a Sherlock Holmes story is fine, but every time I try reading several short stories in succession, I end up getting furious with Conan Doyle’s tricks.


The movie Murder by Death was written with you in mind.




Like so many series of short stories, they should be read one at a time, and not several at once.


“Weird, skinny panther” is such a great description of Brett’s take on Holmes - I adore it. Nice to see that love for the Granada series still lives on.


I’ve overstated the problem, but yep, they say them in the audiobook. I think it’s baked into the format - audio books treat the text as gospel and present everything on the page, while audio dramas make the kinds of adaptations you propose.

Back on topic, I agree with the OP, Jeremy Brett is the best Sherlock. My least favorite Holmes and Watson pairing is Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.

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Well said! Mr Freeman most admirably acquitted himself throughout the Victorian-era Sherlock episode, and I can easily see him in Brett’s Holmes’ digs and stories.

It’s likely he’d also feel like punching Brett’s Holmes, but probably a lot less often. tophat-biggrin