on 9 May 2010
There are a lot of poor attempts at Sherlock Holmes adventures out there, but these three offerings from the BBC are good - very good. I'd even go so far as to say almost as good as if Conan Doyle had written them himself!
The stories themselves are clever and engrossing, but the quality of the production is out of this world, with every little detail crystal clear - I found myself completely absorbed in the atmosphere of The Marlbourne Point Mystery - the sound of the sea gulls and the crashing waves really made me feel like I was there.
I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan and try to lay my hands on everything going (good and bad) and I have to say these are easily some of the better stories out there. I can't recommend this CD set strongly enough. Well done BBC, and let's hope to see more of the same in the very near future!
In several of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Watson hints at further, unpublished mysteries. This is a collection of 3 such stories penned by radio dramatist Bert Coules.
The Remarkable Performance of Mr Frederick Merridew; mentioned in The Empty House, Watson requests Holmes' intervention after a night at the music hall ends in tragedy.
The Eyes of Horus; mentioned in The Hound of the Baskervilles, a priceless Egyptian antique disappears from a locked box, within a safety deposit box sealed in a vault and threatens a diplomatic incident. Can Holmes retrieve the object in time?
The Marlbourne Point Mystery (parts 1 & 2); mentioned in The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger, Holmes is asked by his brother Mycroft to investigate after a man appears to commit suicide only to later be murdered.
Presented on four discs, these are very well written and performed dramatisations and both Clive Berrison and Andrew Sachs are good as Holmes and Watson respectively. As a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories myself, it is apparent that Coules has clearly studied Conan Doyle's writings very carefully and it is easy to imagine that they were penned by the man himself.
Overall, highly recommended for any Holmes fan, although I'd suggest it's possibly a bit pricey for what you get.
It's unfair to compare these stories to the original Conan-Doyle canon, or the performances to those of previous actors; devotees of Holmes will doubtless have their favourites. On its own merits, this is superb drama, based on those tantalising references to past cases, where Holmes would ask Watson to hand him a particular file from his notes. Volume Four presents three more such tales, featuring respectively a murder at a music hall, a vanishing Egyptian artefact, and a man who commited suicide, only to be murdered a few hours later...
Clive Merrison captures the aloof, mercurial and often tetchy Holmes and is perfectly counterbalanced by Andrew Sachs as the practical, empathetic Watson. Solo violin interspersed between pivotal scenes adds atmosphere and authenticity, as does the high quality of audible background setting, which creates vivid images of late Victorian England. Hugely enjoyable, long may this series continue.
There are three different plays on this CD - two short stories and one longer, 'feature-length' piece. The first tale is about a murder in Victorian theatreland (or more accurately, the world of the music hall), the second concerns the theft of an Egyptian antiquity from a elderly lady, and the third, the death of a young man in a seaside town. First glance at the listings suggests this is a bit of an odd combination, but listening to all three stories reveals why they are packaged together. I won't give too much away - you'll have to discover the connection for yourself!
The third tale is by far the most gripping of the three, with the same slightly unsettling atmosphere apparent in M R James's ghost stories set on the East Anglian coast. Though Holmes and Watson aren't investigating the supernatural here, there is a distinct sense of erieness as they try to resolve whether the death of the village simpleton was suicide or murder. The soundtrack is very evocative - steam trains tearing through the countryside, footsteps on shingly beaches, and seabirds calling into the wind. The suspect list are a diverse bunch - the father of the victim, thoroughly embarressed by his inept son, the uncooperative village constable, a host of local dignitaries, and the strange elderly oriental living in a shack on the beach. Everything is frightfully British, from the condescending observations about the servants, to Holmes's thinly veiled admiration for a well-planned crime.
The two shorter tales don't really live up to the sense of atmosphere conveyed in the longer feature, but are still reasonably enjoyable, given the talented cast, which includes Andrew Sachs and Hugh Bonneville.
A nice way to spend a rainy afternoon, or a long car journey.
This set contains three masterful stories by Bert Coules, Radio 4's longtime Holmes dramatic adapter. Holmes, as followers of Radio 4 will know is played reliably as ever by the superb Clive Merrison, with Andrew Sachs ably stepping into the breach left by the late Michael Williams as Watson. In fact with all three of these original stories, it is Sach's urbane and sometimes cynical Watson that gets the most opportunity to shine, as indeed in The Remarkable Performance of Mr Frederick Merridew, the case - and the story - is largely told from Watson's viewpoint, with Holmes drafted in to piece the reported facts together. Sachs brings all the class and quality a voice actor of his considerable expertise can bear to this equally classy series of BBC productions
Merrison's Holmes, as fans of the series will already know, is quite a different kettle of fish from, say, Jeremy Brett's spiky, unpredictable Holmes, or indeed Benedict Cumberbatch's high-functioning sociopathic Sherlock, to cite but two televisual examples - in fact on first listen, I must confess to a certain resistance to his manner. And my concern was that his manner is engaging: Merrison's Holmes comes across as a brilliant, unique and incisive chap, to be sure, but also thoroughly likeable. It came as a shock after enjoying a series of ostensibly irascible, even supercilious portrayals, but after a while, and divorced from the sometimes distracting visual element, I finally `got' it: a radio Holmes needs to bring an element of warmth and likeability to a medium as intimate as only the broadcast of human voices can be, and Merrison delivers this in spades, with a sureness of touch that comes, like Sachs, from an impressive radio pedigree.
Coupled with distinctive, convincingly Conanesque dialogue and scenarios, typical of someone steeped in Holmes radio lore as Bert Coules, and you have several more-than-worthy additions to the Sherlock Holmes canon. Best listened to at night!
If you've been a Holms/Dr Watson fan for a long time, you might either love it or hate it like Marmite as this is not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work. But I really enjoyed all the three stories in this CD set (four CDs in total), and to me it doesn't really matter who the author is as long as it's written & produced well, because I have had another chance to enjoy the journey by the detective!
This series is very well presented and entertaining. In this digital TV and internet era, I think we've become a little bit too much dependent on the visual element of the media. I think we shouldn't let our old grey matter degenerate by technology, as it can create great images in it, something called 'imagination'. I still adore the power of radio dramas and audio books. The best thing about them is that they give you so much imagination, and it's completely up to you. In my opinion it's far better than just watching TV or playing with the internet. And I also love BBC Radio 4, too, so if you are like me, I guarantee you'll enjoy listening to these CDs! You could also listen to them at any time while you're doing something else, such as cooking, driving or trying to fall asleep, even! They would make a good present too.
Hope you enjoy it!
Well, this is quite an interesting conceit. Apparently, during the course of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels, Dr Watson made allusions to other, unpublished cases, which never saw the light of day. But now they have, thanks to Bert Coules and the BBC Radio drama department. And, you know what? They're really enjoyable!
Mr Coules has been responsible for a lot of the Sherlock Holmes dramatisations for radio, so is well placed to come up with some new tales for the radiogram. There's three such stories on offer here - "The Remarkable Performance of Mr Frederick Merridew" where a night at the music hall ends in tragedy, "The Eyes of Horus", an excellent reworking of the locked room / box mystery and "The Marlbourne Point Mystery", where Holmes and Watson solve a mystery in the company of Mycroft Holmes.
Spread across four discs, you'd never guess that these hadn't originated in the hands of Conan Doyle, and Clive Berrison and Andrew Sachs put in excellent performances as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Heartily recommended for afficianados of the classic detective.
I am generally wary of sequels and additions to great works of the past by new authors - for instance, nothing on earth would persuade me to buy Return to the Hundred Acre Wood for my daughter. But occasionally you get some reworkings or revivals that actually add something worthwhile to the canon, and in my opinion this set of dramas does. The writer has produced not pastiche but new adventures in the real Holmesian tradition, with both familiar and new characters, solution by deduction (and not extreme violence and chases, which some modern writers seem to think the stories need), and a well-researched and invoked Victorian setting. It also helps that the star of the show is Clive Merrison, who played Holmes in the BBC's radio adaptations of the works of Conan Doyle. And that many if not all the tales are apparently inspired from references within the original canon. Well acted, enjoyable and intriguing, I heartily recommend them.
I really loved these 3 BBC adaptations of one of the most famous fictional sleuths of all time. The stories themselves are constructed from references made in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, so not genuine Conan Doyle works, but none the less they are still very enjoyable indeed.
Clive Merrison and Andrew Sachs play the respective Holmes and Watson to great effect, in the three stories "The Remarkable Performance of Mr Frederick Merridew", "The Eyes of Horus" and "The Marlbourne Point Mystery". They are very captivating stories, ones that I was totally engrossed with; I had to listen to them a second time just to enjoy them all again. Well, without giving too much away, I also listened to them again because there were links between the first and third episodes; surely the great Sherlock Holmes could not have been out done?
Great production, great stories and great acting - top marks!
When you're stuck doing the ironing or dishes, or even if you just want to relax on the sofa for a while then the radio drama of Sherlock Holmes makes for perfect listening. This Vol. 4 edition features 3 stories, including a two-parter, across four CDs with an average running time of about 43 minutes. First broadcast in late 2008 the dramas star Clive Merrison and Andrew Sachs. The sound effects and ambiance are great and really do place you in the fictional environments. The dialogue is stereophonic too, which makes it a little more sophisticated than old-time radio dramas for those of you who have more than one speaker.
I'd also recommend this product to parents who want their children to get more into books. I had loads of audiobooks as a kid and I remember them fondly. It's a great "in" to the world of literature and a step (in the right direction) away from video games.