Sherlock Holmes

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Charles Norton
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

It's odd really. You'd have thought that if they were looking to do a 90 minute special, their first thought would have been to adapt one of the longer stories. 'Valley of Fear' would surely have been the obvious candidate (although you'd probably want to be a bit careful with how you tackled the second half). Taking a very short story like 'Charles Augustus Milverton' and inflating it certainly wasn't the easiest way of making a 90 minute episode.

mikew
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by mikew »

Indeed: it's very odd that they expanded such inconsequential stories rather than do Valley of Fear or even a version of A Study in Scarlet without the introductory scenes.

It's never occurred to me before but I wonder what those 90min episodes would be like if edited down to 45 mins? My guess is like most of the final series they would still be fairly anaemic compared to the thrill of the earlier episodes. (Mind you I can't bear to watch the very last series as poor Jeremy Brett looks and sounds so ill.)

Charles Norton
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

It is upsetting to see Brett so ill in the '95 run. However, I will say that there's still a lot to appreciate in those last episodes. It's a particular joy to have more of Charles Gray (here standing in for both Holmes and Watson). There's some lovely moments in 'The Golden Pince-Nez' where Brett and Gray play off one another. And Gray also does a remarkable job in 'The Mazarin Stone', pulling off a decent hour's worth of television, in the face of truly terrible behind the scenes problems. Some lovely direction in that last run too (see 'The Golden Pince-Nez' again).

I don't know whether 45 minute versions of 'Last Vampyre' or 'Bachelor' would really stand up, as despite their many shortcomings, they were at least originally plotted out as double-length films. However, 'Charles Augustus Milverton/The Master Blackmailer' could certainly have worked at half the length. As for the other 90 minute episodes, 'Sign of Four' is a masterpiece and should be left well alone. And 'Hound of the Baskervilles' is a bit mediocre and unexciting, but doesn't particularly offend and is no worse than any other 'Hound'.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Simon36 »

Charles Norton wrote:It is upsetting to see Brett so ill in the '95 run. However, I will say that there's still a lot to appreciate in those last episodes. It's a particular joy to have more of Charles Gray (here standing in for both Holmes and Watson). There's some lovely moments in 'The Golden Pince-Nez' where Brett and Gray play off one another. And Gray also does a remarkable job in 'The Mazarin Stone', pulling off a decent hour's worth of television, in the face of truly terrible behind the scenes problems. Some lovely direction in that last run too (see 'The Golden Pince-Nez' again).

I don't know whether 45 minute versions of 'Last Vampyre' or 'Bachelor' would really stand up, as despite their many shortcomings, they were at least originally plotted out as double-length films. However, 'Charles Augustus Milverton/The Master Blackmailer' could certainly have worked at half the length. As for the other 90 minute episodes, 'Sign of Four' is a masterpiece and should be left well alone. And 'Hound of the Baskervilles' is a bit mediocre and unexciting, but doesn't particularly offend and is no worse than any other 'Hound'.
Just out of interest what was going in behind the scenes in The Mazarin Stone?

Charles Norton
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

Well, (as far as I understand it) there were a number of problems that stacked up. The first problem was that 'The Mazarin Stone' is a really short story. Incredibly short. It's basically just a single scene. A faithful adaptation of the whole thing would run to about 10 minutes. So, obviously it was always going to be a tricky one to transfer to TV.

Another story they were looking at that year was 'The Three Garidebs'. This is also a very short story, although not as short as 'Mazarin'. So, you've got two stories that are both too short to make up whole episodes on their own. So what do you do?

The solution was simple. They did both two stories within one episode. A script was duly written that combined 'The Mazarin Stone' and 'The Three Graidebs' into one single hour-long episode. To be honest, the script is mostly 'The Three Garidebs', but what little there is of 'Mazarin' is there too.

Problem number two was something that afflicted the whole of that last year. The producers had this fantastic Baker Street set on the backlot at Granada studios. However, in the 1990s, Granada opened it to the public as a visitor attraction. And during the period that Holmes would be filming, Britain would be at the height of the tourist season. In short, they had to make that final series without the use of the Baker Street set at all. They had this wonderful set and they couldn't film there.

By 1995 all these problems were in the process of being ironed out in some form. Alternative locations had been found and they were cracking along with filming the rest of the series. However, by then there was a new problem. During the filming of 'The Dying Detective', Jeremy Brett collapsed on set and was rushed into hospital. He was extremely ill and would die a few months later. 'The Mazarin Stone' episode was next in line for production and it was clear that the actor would be too unwell to manage more than a day or two's filming at the most on the next episode. He simply was too sick to embark on a full production.

So,the 'Mazarin' script was hastily rewritten to allow Brett some time off. But, how do you film a Sherlock Holmes story without an actor to play your lead character? The solution was to cross out Sherlock Holmes' name from the script and replace it with the name of his brother, Mycroft Holmes. Charles Gray was parachuted in at the eleventh hour to play Mycroft again and the changes were surprisingly minimal. Brett even managed to do his two half-days shooting to tie up the loose ends. Surprisingly, the finished story is quite a nice one. However, we do sadly lose one of Sherlock Holmes' best bits of dialogue, as a result of the rewriting.

The end result isn't an entirely faithful adaptation by any means. However, given the circumstances, it is as faithful as it was practically possible to make it. And we get more Charles Gray, which is always a delight.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

Yes, one of the real pities of Sherlock having to be written out of the adaptation of "Garridebs" is that we lose the famous "If you had killed Watson you would not have got out of this room alive..."

Charles Norton
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

I notice that 'The Mazarin Stone' episode is actually being shown on ITV3 on Tuesday, if anyone hasn't seen it yet.

Well worth catching.

Tim Munro
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Tim Munro »

Charles Norton wrote:
Problem number two was something that afflicted the whole of that last year. The producers had this fantastic Baker Street set on the backlot at Granada studios. However, in the 1990s, Granada opened it to the public as a visitor attraction. And during the period that Holmes would be filming, Britain would be at the height of the tourist season. In short, they had to make that final series without the use of the Baker Street set at all. They had this wonderful set and they couldn't film there.

Happily, by 1995 all these problems had been ironed out in some form. Alternative locations had been found and they were cracking along with filming the rest of the series. Then, during the filming of 'The Dying Detective', Jeremy Brett collapsed on set and was rushed into hospital. He was extremely ill and would die a few months later. 'The Mazarin Stone' episode was next in line for production and it was clear that the actor would be too unwell to manage more than a day or two's filming at the most on the next episode. He simply was too sick to embark on a full production.


.
You've conflated history a bit there - "Memoirs" was filmed in 1993, and "Mazarin Stone" transmitted on 4th April 1994. Jeremy didn't die until September 1995, although his collapse on "Dying Detective" was due to the heart failure that eventually carried him off, and which he'd been struggling with for most of that filming block. Also by the time "Memoirs" was filmed the Baker Street backlot was not only no longer available to the producers, it was actually inside a building. Granada put a roof and walls around it and made it - if I recall Michael Cox's book on the series correctly -part of their corporate entertainment suite! As with so many of the decisions which affected the series for the worse over the years, "short-sighted" barely begins to cover it. For the years when the backlot was still open-air and was part of the Granada Studio Tours we're talking "Casebook" and the 3 feature-lengthers, wherein Baker Street is rarely seen and even then very underpopulated as the Tours section were charging the show's producers an astronomical sum per day to use the set their own budget had paid to build! I've always suspected it was actually being built around during the filming of "Eligible Bachelor", wherein it's noticeable that shots of Baker Street are mainly of the facade of 221b, and that a huge wooden fence/advertising hoarding seems to fill the end of the street where the trees and railings of the park are supposed to be.

Charles Norton
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

Tim Munro wrote:
You've conflated history a bit there - "Memoirs" was filmed in 1993, and "Mazarin Stone" transmitted on 4th April 1994. Jeremy didn't die until September 1995, although his collapse on "Dying Detective" was due to the heart failure that eventually carried him off...
I stand corrected. I actually remember visting the Baker Street set around this time. I hadn't realised that the roof section had been added against the interests of the series. I think I'd assumed it was for the filming of some nocturnal scenes.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

Charles Norton wrote:Well, the first problem was that 'The Mazarin Stone' is a really short story. Incredibly short. It's basically just a single scene. A faithful adaptation of the whole thing would run to about 10 minutes. So, obviously it was always going to be a tricky one to transfer to TV.

Another story they were looking at that year was 'The Three Garidebs'. This is also a very short story, although not as short as 'Mazarin'. So, you've got two stories that are both too short to make up whole episodes on their own. So what do you do?

The solution was simple. They did both two stories within one episode. A script was duly written that combined 'The Mazarin Stone' and 'The Three Graidebs' into one single hour-long episode. To be honest, the script is mostly 'The Three Garidebs', but what little there is of 'Mazarin' is there too.

Problem number two was something that afflicted the whole of that last year. The producers had this fantastic Baker Street set on the backlot at Granada studios. However, in the 1990s, Granada opened it to the public as a visitor attraction. And during the period that Holmes would be filming, Britain would be at the height of the tourist season. In short, they had to make that final series without the use of the Baker Street set at all. They had this wonderful set and they couldn't film there.

Happily, by 1995 all these problems had been ironed out in some form.
By 1995? Do you mean 1993 maybe? That was surely the last year of production?

Charles Norton
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Charles Norton »

Quick reminder for those who haven't seen it. Charles Gray's 'The Mazarin Stone' is on ITV3 tonight at 19.50PM.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

I'll grab it. I've always liked it despite sympathising a little bit with Alan Barnes' criticism of the "smoke and mirrors" sequence at the end whereby Mycroft seems to supernaturally dodge the villain's bullets. Still, it was one of the last episodes, end of term and all that.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

Further to discussions in this thread earlier in the year, I am pleased to be able to say that my documentary Far From the Fogs, examining the connections between Sherlock Holmes and the county of Norfolk, is now complete. It's due for transmission on Bank Holiday Monday at 12 midday.

Anyone interested will be able to catch it online here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01dwbkl.

Thanks to everyone in this thread who provided pointers towards useful sources. I hope the programme proves to be of interest - if you have a listen, please do let me know your thoughts!

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

Publicity seeker? Me...?

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Nick Cooper 625
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Please assure us that the deerstalker and pipe aren't actually yours!
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by brigham »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote:Please assure us that the deerstalker and pipe aren't actually yours!
Ah, you've got the Strand facsimile volume, complete with Paget illustrations. I've got one somewhere. Definitely the 'next best thing'!

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

No Nick, borrowed from a local theatre!

As for the book, it's actually a fairly cheap and nasty edition, with pixellated scans of German illustrations.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

Paul, have you got a link to the EDP piece? Looks like you've got a good spread (article-wise) in the supplement there.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

ctraynor wrote:Paul, have you got a link to the EDP piece? Looks like you've got a good spread (article-wise) in the supplement there.
Yes indeed, a two-page spread, very gratifying! And they didn't change the article from my draft either, which was rather pleasing, so it must have been okay!

The weekend supplement content doesn't go online, as far as I am aware. However, there will be a different piece on BBC News Online tomorrow - I'll post the link as and when it's up.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

No sign of the BBC News Online piece yet, sadly, but you can now listen to a preview clip from the programme, looking at the connections between Cromer Hall and the Hound of the Baskervilles:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01dxtbk

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

Here's the BBC News Online piece. It's changed a bit from what I wrote, but you get the general idea...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-23808837

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

Last plug from me - the full programme is now available to listen to online for the next seven days:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01dwbkl

andrew baker
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by andrew baker »

Paul Hayes wrote:No Nick, borrowed from a local theatre!

As for the book, it's actually a fairly cheap and nasty edition, with pixellated scans of German illustrations.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ988yj3FuE

Just as a musical interlude - I used original Strand magazine volumes for the pictures on this Youtube. It makes quite a difference. This is one of a set of pieces I did last year mainly inspired by 19thc art and literature. The gravestone near the end was a bit of pure serendipity in Stafford cemetery.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

Can I plug the fact that "Far From the Fogs" is getting a (slightly-extended) repeat this evening at 6pm on BBC Radio Norfolk...?

Apparently, there are other Holmes-related programmes elsewhere on the BBC today as well...

Brian F
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Brian F »

Anyone else see the "Sherlock - Many happy returns" preview on Freeview 301 (or Red Button as the BBC calls it)?

Its on again tonight from 22.20 until 0500 ish.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

Brian F wrote:Anyone else see the "Sherlock - Many happy returns" preview on Freeview 301 (or Red Button as the BBC calls it)?

Its on again tonight from 22.20 until 0500 ish.
It's not so much a preview, I think, as a stand-alone mini episode. It's also available online:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01np1b8

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gogglebox
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by gogglebox »

Douglas Wilmer is I reckon the only Holmes to compare to Jeremy Brett the surviving series is available on a US BBC Region 1 dvd release. Somewhat unexpectedly Tom Baker was a brilliant Holmes as well,though Terence Rigby who played Watson was dreadful he seemed to be doped up on sedatives. To be a good Holmes an actor needs to be of exceptional intelligence,and Tom Baker comes across as being so. Looks wise he resembled the American Holmes William Gillete.For me this is my favourite version of the Hound its so atmospheric. Yes David Burke was the best of the Watson's he just totally met the criteria of a man of action with humour and intelligence,that none of the other portrayals seem to have matched. The one hour Bretts were in my opinion definitive,the 2 hour ones were too padded out,though Brett never failed to be brilliant. Wontner looked the part,but was too old,but of the movie portrayals he was my favourite.

I cannot stand the recent BBC series or the recent movies they are a travesty. I wish TV would embark on putting together a series to rival the Brett series there has to be an actor out there (one preferably not well known) who could do the part justice as the late great Jeremy Brett did,

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Jim Clark
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http://www.youtube.com/user/acoustcarchive

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Simon36
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Simon36 »

gogglebox wrote:Douglas Wilmer is I reckon the only Holmes to compare to Jeremy Brett the surviving series is available on a US BBC Region 1 dvd release. Tom Baker was a brilliant Holmes as well,though Terence Rigby who played Watson was dreadful he seemed to be doped up on sedatives. To be a good Holmes an actor needs to be of exceptional intelligence,and Tom Baker comes across as being so. Looks wise he resembled the American Holmes William Gillete.For me this is my favourite version of the Hound its so atmaspheric. Yes David Burke was the best of the Watson's he just met the criteria of a man of action with humour and intelligence,that none of the other portrayals seem to have matched. The one hour Bretts were in my opinion definitive,the 2 hour ones were too padded out,though Brett never failed to be brilliant. Wontner looked the part,but was too old,but of the movie portrayals he was my favourite.

I cannot stand the recent BBC series or the recent movies they are a travesty. I wish TV would embark on putting together a series to rival the Brett series there has to be an actor out there (one preferably not well known) who could do the part justice as the late great Jeremy Brett did,

Kind Regards

Jim Clark
http://www.youtube.com/user/poetryreincarnations
http://www.youtube.com/user/acoustcarchive
Jim, curious to know what you made of the Christopher Plummer/ James Mason Holmes and Watson in Murder by Decree?

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gogglebox
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by gogglebox »

Awful is the word that comes to mind.Firstly it doesn't work to have such well known actors with perhaps the exception of Tom Baker. The film was all gloss and the story was complete Tosh.It saddens me when I think that so many lavish movies have been made of Holmes,but despite the big budgets they completely missed the point of what Sherlock Holmes is.Conan Doyle celebrated intelligence in his Canon of stories not the trivia of celebrity and the overblown vanity of screenwriters probably fueled by artificial stimulants that the movies seem to have been obsessed with

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Jim Clark
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http://www.youtube.com/user/acoustcarchive

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ian b »

There's a HOLMES themed TIMESHIFT coming up on BBC4 on 12th January...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03pzsd9

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