1 9 6 5 (UK)
28 x 50 minute episodes
The adventures of the pipe-smoking Victorian detective were first filmed (for live transmission) by the BBC in 1951, in a version most notable for the future endeavours of its cast: Alan Wheatley (Holmes) went on to play the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood, Raymond Francis (Watson) starred in No Hiding Place and, two decades later, Bill Owen (Lestrade) turned up as Compo in Last Of The Summer Wine.
Returning to Conan Doyle’s books once more in 1964, the BBC produced a one-off (The Speckled Band) for the Detective anthology, following this up with a safely, safely series, with some levity introduced via an almost comically-bungling Watson.
The black-and-white series pleased the viewing audience and the BBC thought there was enough footage in the incompetent Watson idea to commission a second series in 1968, billed as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
For this ratings-topping outing, Douglas Wilmer was replaced as Holmes by Hammer star Peter Cushing.
Yet none of these BBC versions was remotely faithful to Conan Doyle’s dark portrait of Holmes as a half-mad, cocaine-snorting genius, and viewers had to wait until Jeremy Brett in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for a definitive, unsanitised version.
Douglas Wilmer (1)
Peter Cushing (2)