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Essentially English : Sherlock Holmes at the BBC

Hewett, RJ 2016, 'Essentially English : Sherlock Holmes at the BBC' , The Journal of British Cinema and Television, 13 (1) , pp. 1-18.

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, currently enjoying renewed popularity on television via the BBC’s Sherlock (2010- ), have been adapted for the screen countless times around the world. Arguably best remembered are Granada’s long-running strand with Jeremy Brett (1984-94), and the Universal film series of the 1940s, featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Less frequently cited, however, are the two series produced by the BBC between 1965 and 1968, in which first Douglas Wilmer and later Peter Cushing took on the mantle of the Baker Street detective. Typically for the time – but against the wishes of the Conan Doyle estate - these programmes adopted a multi-camera studio model; a mode of production which made them less attractive to US networks than the single camera 35mm film output of commercial rivals such as ITC. Drawing upon material from the BBC’s Written Archives Centre, this article investigates the motivations underpinning the Corporation’s refusal to accommodate the estate’s exhortations to seek American co-production and utilise single camera filming, not least of which was the BBC’s stated desire to maintain the ‘essentially English’ quality of Sherlock Holmes. This decision would have significant repercussions for the series’ overseas saleability, and – despite impressive viewing figures and positive audience reaction at home in the UK – helped contribute to its ‘forgotten’ status with regard to the television canon.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: BBC television, Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle, US co-production, adaptation, PBS, Masterpiece Theatre
Themes: Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: The Journal of British Cinema and Television
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1743-4521
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Dr Richard Hewett
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2015 15:31
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2016 15:28

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