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Sherlock Holmes (1951 TV series)

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Sherlock Holmes (1951 TV series)

Sherlock Holmes
Written by C. A. Lejeune
Starring Alan Wheatley
Raymond Francis
Eric Maturin
Iris Vandeleur
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 6 Episode list
Producer(s) Ian Atkins
Running time 35 min.
Original channel BBC
Original airing 20 October 1951

Sherlock Holmes (a.k.a. We Present Alan Wheatley as Mr Sherlock Holmes in...) was a 1951 television series produced by the BBC featuring Alan Wheatley as Sherlock Holmes, Raymond Francis as Dr. Watson and Eric Maturin as Colonel Moran. This was the first series of Sherlock Holmes stories adapted for television.[1][2]


Some sources state that a BBC filmed adaptation of "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" starring Andrew Osborn as Holmes and Philip King as Watson was a pilot episode for the series[1][2][3] while others claim the "Mazarin Stone" adaptation was a separate thing entirely[2] and was filmed for the Festival of Britain.[2]

Series star Alan Wheatley claimed that the genesis of the series resided with a review of his performance in a television adaptation of Patrick Hamilton's Rope.[2]

C. A. Lejeune gave me a marvelous notice in the Observer and she finished up by saying, "If the BBC have got any sense they will commission a series of Sherlock Holmes stories and ask Alan Wheatley to play Sherlock Holmes." So the BBC, very unlike them, took this up and wrote to her and said, "All right, if you will do the scripts we will do the series," and that's how they came to be done...[4]

C. A. Lejeune did indeed pen the scripts, writing all six episodes.[5] Lejeune claimed the series strived for accuracy noting the first episode as "the first of many adaptations to trumpet canonical authenticity as the sine qua non for essays into Holmesesian lore."[6]

In an interview for Radio Times, Lejeune stated "we picked the stories that seemed likely to give a variety of subject, while rounding out the portrait of the man..."[4]

Each 35 minute episode was aired live[7] and consequently no tapes exist of the series to date.[2] Live television had its pitfalls of which Wheatley later complained.

I must say I found it the most difficult thing to speak I've every done in the whole of my career. Unfortunately, Miss Lejeune also did some things that are just not possible - technical things like not allowing enough time for changes. You see, television was live in those days, and in one particular scene she finished up with a sentence from me, and opened the next scene also with a sentence from me, in heavy disguise, with no time at all for a change![1][6]


No. Title Directed by: Written by: Original air date
1 "The Empty House" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and C.A. Lejeune 20 October 1951 (1951-10-20)
Dr. Watson assists in a case of the murder of Ronald Frances Adair and is shocked by the unexpected return of the presumed dead Sherlock Holmes. Together they nab the last remaining henchman of Sherlock's archenemy Moriarty.
2 "A Scandal in Bohemia" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and C.A. Lejeune 27 October 1951 (1951-10-27)
Holmes is contacted by the King of Bohemia to search for a blackmail photo in Irene Adler's possession. Despite his efforts Irene was all this time one step ahead of Holmes.
3 "The Dying Detective" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and C.A. Lejeune 3 November 1951 (1951-11-03)
Adelaide Savage requests Holmes and Watson to investigate her husband Victor addicted by Opium influenced by his wicked cousin Culverton Smith, who is intent on taking over the Savage family wealth.
4 "The Reigate Squires" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and C.A. Lejeune 17 November 1951 (1951-11-17)
5 "The Red Headed League" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and C.A. Lejeune 24 November 1951 (1951-11-24)
Holmes and Watson investigate an odd vacancy Mr. Wilson applied for and lost two months later. Holmes finds that this was just to get Mr. Wilson out of the way in preparation for a bank robbery.
6 "The Second Stain" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and C.A. Lejeune 22 November 1951 (1951-11-22)
Sherlock Holmes is assigned to search for a top secret political letter, without arousing suspicion from the public. After days of investigating, Holmes finds the thief was blackmailed into taking it.


The 23 October 1951 issue of The Times said "The performance was done in a proper spirit of seriousness. Mr Alan Wheatley, though rather younger and fuller in the face that the Holmes of his opponents' nightmares, yet catches the essential character."[6][8]


  1. ^ a b c  
  2. ^ a b c d e f Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 222.  
  3. ^ "Sherlock Holmes". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 222–223.  
  5. ^ Allen Eyles (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration.  
  6. ^ a b c Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 223.  
  7. ^ "The wide world of Sherlock Holmes". The Sherlock Holmes Society of London. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  8. ^  

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