Sherlock Holmes (1984 TV series)

Sherlock Holmes

Series titles over a streetview of Baker Street

Original opening title card. In subsequent series this wording would change.
Created by Michael Cox
Starring Jeremy Brett
David Burke
Edward Hardwicke
Charles Gray
Colin Jeavons
Eric Porter
Rosalie Williams
Composer(s) Patrick Gowers
No. of series 9 (including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, plus 5 feature length specials)
No. of episodes 41 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) ITV Granada
Running time 50 to 104 minutes
Original network ITV
Original release 24 April 1984 (1984-04-24) – 11 April 1994 (1994-04-11)

Sherlock Holmes is the name given to the TV series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations produced by British television company Granada Television between 1984 and 1994, with the first two series bearing the title The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes on screen and being followed by subsequent sub-series bearing the titles of other short story collections by Arthur Conan Doyle. The series was broadcast on the ITV network in the UK and starred Jeremy Brett as the famous detective. His portrayal remains very popular and is accepted by some as the definitive on-screen version of Sherlock Holmes.[1][2][3]

In addition, Holmes's faithful friend and companion Dr. Watson is portrayed as the kind of thoroughly competent sidekick that Holmes would want. Initially, Watson was portrayed by David Burke (who had earlier played the villain in an adaptation of "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet" for the 1965 BBC series[4] starring Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock). Burke appeared in the first year of the Adventures series before leaving to join the Royal Shakespeare Company.[5][6] He was replaced by Edward Hardwicke, who played Watson for the remainder of the run.[6]

Of the 60 Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 42 were adapted in the series spanning 36 one-hour episodes and five feature-length specials. (The elements of two stories were combined in one episode, accounting for the different numbers.)


The series was initially produced by Michael Cox, with later episodes produced by June Wyndham-Davies. It was developed for television by screenwriter John Hawkesworth, who also wrote many of the episodes. Other writers to contribute included Alexander Baron, Jeremy Paul, T.R. Bowen, and Alan Plater. A full-scale outdoor replica of Baker Street was constructed at Granada's studios in Quay Street, Manchester, which later formed a central part of the Granada Studios Tour tourist attraction, before that venue's closure in 1999.

In addition to Brett, Burke and Hardwicke, other regular cast members included Rosalie Williams as housekeeper Mrs. Hudson and Colin Jeavons as Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Also appearing in several episodes was Charles Gray as Holmes' brother Mycroft Holmes (who played the same character in the 1976 film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution), and Eric Porter who portrayed Holmes' nemesis Professor Moriarty in the second series of Adventures. The role of the servant Joe Barnes who impersonates Lady Beatrice in the 1991 episode The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place was played by Jude Law, who later played Dr. Watson in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes and its 2011 sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

The series came to an end owing to the death of Brett at the age of 61 from heart failure in 1995. It has, however, been reported that by that stage he had already decided not to play the role of Holmes again – he had been gravely ill during the making of the final run of the series, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and even collapsed on set during the making of one episode.

The series possibly presents the most faithful screen adaptations of many of the Holmes stories, although liberties were taken with some plotlines and characters, particularly later in the run during the 1990s episodes. A big change was Holmes quitting his cocaine habit in the episode "The Devil's Foot," which was done at the approval of Conan Doyle's daughter when it was discovered that the series had a considerable child audience. Nonetheless, the series has been highly praised for its star, its adherence to Doyle's original concept in the characterisation of Watson, its high production values, and close attention to period detail.

As well as being broadcast by ITV in the UK, the series was popular overseas, particularly in the United States, where the episodes initially ran on PBS stations there in the Mystery! strand. Later series gained co-production funding from Boston PBS broadcaster WGBH. The shows have also been transmitted on cable television stations Disney Channel and A&E Network in the US and on CBC in Canada. In the UK, the series has often been repeated on Granada Plus, ITV3, and BBC Two, which ran the complete series on Saturday afternoons from 2003 to 2005. This makes the series one of the very few major in-house ITV series ever to have been subsequently shown on the BBC. In March 2006, the series returned to its original channel for the first time in over a decade, as part of the daytime television line-up on weekday afternoons.

The complete series has also been released on VHS and on DVD, twice on the latter medium, with the most recent 2005 release taking advantage of the digitally remastered film prints originally prepared for the BBC Two repeat run. In December 2012 the series was released on Blu-ray in Japan, in Spain in May 2013 and in France in October 2013.[7]



The series ran for 41 episodes as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984–1985), The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1986–1988), The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1991–1993) and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1994); 36 ran for 50 minutes, and 5 were feature-length specials.

Home video releases

Region 1

MPI Home Video has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1, in various incarnations. MPI released The Adventures & The Return in single disc volumes as well as complete collections. The Casebook & The Memoirs were released as a single collection box sets. In addition, on 25 September 2007, a complete series set was released featuring all 41 episodes in one complete collection for the very first time.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes: Boxed Set Collection 13 30 April 2002
The Return of Sherlock Holmes DVD Collection 13 26 August 2003
The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes DVD Collection 9 28 September 2004
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes DVD Collection 6 26 October 2004
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series 41 25 September 2007

Region 2

ITV DVD has released the entire series in various collections as well as a complete series box set.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures / The Return 26 21 February 2005
Sherlock Holmes: The Case Book / The Memoirs 15 21 February 2005
Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Collection 41 21 February 2005 and 24 August 2009[8]

The Complete Collection mentioned above has English subtitles only. The complete series was released on Blu-ray in Spain in 2013.[9] Though native to Spain, the Blu-rays are region-free and thus can be played in any region of the world.

Other productions

During 1988–89 Brett and Hardwicke appeared in a West End play, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, a two-hander written specially for them by the television series screenwriter Jeremy Paul.

In 1992 Brett and Hardwicke appeared in a mini-episode (about ten minutes in length) as part of The Four Oaks Mystery, shown as part of the ITV network's Telethon 92 charity telethon. This episode formed one of a four-part sequence of stories featuring the stars of four ITV detective shows of the time all separately working to solve the same mystery, broadcast at two episodes a night across one weekend. The other shows that produced mini-episodes for the special were Taggart, Van der Valk and Inspector Wexford.


  1. The wide world of Sherlock Holmes: Jeremy Brett (1933-1995)
  2. Jeremy Brett: The Definitive Sherlock Holmes review
  3. Sherlock Holmes on Screen
  4. Daniel Smith (2011). The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide. Castle Books. pp. 81, 108. ISBN 9780785827849.
  5. Peter Haining (1994). The Television Sherlock Holmes. Virgin Books. p. 172. ISBN 0863697933.
  6. 1 2 Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 118. ISBN 1903111048.
  7. "Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) Blu-ray releases". M2N Limited. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  8. "Sherlock Holmes - Complete Collection [DVD]: Jeremy Brett, David Burke, Edward Hardwicke, Eric Porter, Charles Gray, Rosalie Williams, David Carson, Alan Grint, John Bruce, Paul Annett: DVD". Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  9. Sherlock Holmes: The Complete ITV Series Blu-ray (Spain)


External links

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