Jeremy Brett was on top form; healthy and energetic, bouncing around with Edward Hardwicke as if it was all a jolly boy’s adventure for the actors as well as the characters they were portraying. That’s what I particularly love about the series, the way in which they managed to capture the humour and adventure aspect of the original stories.
The enthusiasm with which Watson asked if he could accompany Holmes to Dartmoor and the delight this gave Holmes was perfectly played. Then they both hurriedly packed up their things and bustled out of the house full of enthusiasm for the adventure which lay ahead. And the humour was there again, playing out across Brett’s face as he toyed with a sceptical Colonel Ross and as he made sheep noises across the dining table to Watson to remind him of an earlier comment. And the immortal line about the curious incident of the dog in the night-time was delivered to perfection.
The episode was timeless, hadn’t dated at all and was a joy to watch. It certainly helped to block out the memory of the Three Garridebs which was coupled together with the Mazarin Stone and contained only a brief appearance from a very ill-looking Brett. How sad that illness robbed the series of Brett’s earlier energy and sparkle. Fair play to him for soldiering on as he did but let us not forget Brett at his best, with a twinkle in his eye, playing Holmes with a brilliant balance of humour, adventure, energy and sensitivity. No-one else, in my opinion, has even come close to getting this balance just right – neither an actor playing Holmes nor a whole production – in quite the way that Brett and Granada managed it.
Other favourite episodes of mine include The Red Headed League and The Master Blackmailer, which both featured a great supporting cast of Richard Wilson in the League and Robert Hardy as a brilliant Milverton. What are your favourite Granada episodes and why?
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