New Classics

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal fictional detective first appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887. Sherlock Holmes became hugely popular following the publication in The Strand Magazine of the first series of short stories covering a period from around 1878 up to 1907, with the final case being set in 1914. The London-based ‘consulting detective’ is famous for using his intellectual prowess, astute observation, deductive reasoning and inference to solve even the most difficult cases.

When asked if there was a real Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle always maintained that Holmes was inspired by Dr Joseph Bell, for whom Doyle had worked as a clerk at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Like Holmes, Bell was noted for drawing large conclusions from the smallest observations. Dr Bell was also interested in crime and occasionally assisted the police. All but four of the stories are narrated by Holmes’s friend and biographer, Dr John H. Watson, with two narrated by Holmes himself and two others written in the third person. As well as being hugely popular still in print, Conan Doyle’s stories have been filmed many times and Sherlock Holmes has appeared on screen more often than any other fictional character. Sixteen of the Holmes stories were adapted for radio in the early 1950s, produced by Harry Alan Towers for his own company and broadcast by both the BBC.

John Gielgud stars as an enthusiastic, mischievous Holmes and Ralph Richardson is his fruitily avuncular Watson. Others involved include Val Gielgud (Sir John’s brother) as Mycroft Holmes and Orson Welles as a memorable Professor Moriarty. Heritage Media have released the whole of this excellent vintage radio drama, sympathetically remastered and issued on four double CDs, each containing four episodes. From early tales such as The Blackmailer and Scandal in Bohemia to The Red-headed League and A Case of Identity, this collection is a treat for all Holmes aficionados.