This week has seen The Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes transported to the 21st Century in a new BBC Drama series penned by Steven Moffat.
The series has prompted discussions on who is considered to have been the best portrayer of Conan Doyle's Super Sleuth and the main candidates mentioned have been, unsurprisingly, Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone. I believe that several actors have been excellent in the role, including these two and Ian and Douglas Wilmer - they have all brought something different to the character.
Ian's portrayal of Holmes in The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles has been rightly praised. I suspect he might have been remembered for playing him as much as Brett and Rathbone, had the series of films planned not been halted after the first two had been made - due to Granada putting into action its own plans for a series once the books came into the public domain in 1980, fifty years after Conan Doyle's death.
The American producer, Sy Weintraub, had paid a great deal of money obtaining permission from the Doyle estate to make the films and he took Granada to court, winning an out-of-court settlement and ending his interest in making any more Holmes films. Not only was Ian robbed of the chance of playing the character again, but he also had to pull out from playing the Emperor in Amadeus as Weintraub wouldn't release him whilst the court case was pending.
He did, many years later, have the chance to play Dr Joseph Bell, the man believed to have been Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for Holmes, in the series Murder Rooms. And although it wasn't a case of bringing the stories up to date, as has just been done, the series was nonetheless an imaginative way of putting another slant on the Holmes/Watson scenario.
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