The many voices and faces of Sherlock Holmes
in Cinema and radio in Britain and America, 1920–60
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Sherlock Holmes has had such enduring appeal because he embodied the strengths, the complexities and the contradictions of the late-Victorian age. Every generation since Conan Doyle has had its perfect Holmes. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of William Gillette as an interpreter of Holmes. Although Holmes is now indelibly associated with the nineteenth century, the Holmes films of the 1930s, like those of the 1920s, all have contemporary twentieth-century settings. British radio only belatedly took up the Holmes saga. The first BBC Holmes radio play was Silver Blaze, broadcast on 12 April 1938 with F. Wyndham Goldie as Holmes and Hubert Harben as Watson. Thanks to audio cassette, we can enjoy a plethora of Holmeses. The short stories leant themselves perfectly to half-hour adaptation and radio provided pictures that no film or television version could ever equal.

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