There were two major radio series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
The American one starred Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce and ran for seven years in the mid-1930s. (Several actors had played Holmes before, but the Rathbone/Bruce films enhanced the popularity of this duo.) In Great Britain, a radio series ran in 1954 with even classier casting. Knighted in 1949 and 1953 respectively, Sir Ralph Richardson appeared as Watson and Sir John Gielgud as Holmes.
16 of them have been released on CD by Heritage Media titled THE CLASSIC SHERLOCK HOLMES in 4 sets of 2 CDs each. Many of these will be familiar to those who read the originals and/or saw them televised in the Jeremy Brett series. The more popular tales included here are “A Scandal in Bohemia” (the one with Irene Adler), “The Speckled Band,” and “The Red-headed League.”
There has always been a chemistry between Gielgud and Richardson on stage, and it is good to hear how wonderfully they play off each other. If anything, they are perhaps a bit too urbane. This Watson is not the silly fool of the Rathbone films, but this Holmes is a little less neurotic and cynical than the Holmes on the printed page. I find that this radio series lacks a feeling of momentum and adventure. But then again, the original tales don’t move very quickly either.
Gielgud’s brother Val (a bigwig at the BBC then) appears as Holmes‚ brother Mycroft in “The Traitor,” to add an extra bit of interest.
I used to hear some of these on an old LP set and am grateful to Heritage Media for making these broadcasts available on CD.
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