The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (Television Series)

Television Series

This fondly remembered British television anthology series featured adaptations of short mystery stories featuring some of the literary contemporaries of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, inspired by the popular series of Rivals of Sherlock Holmes anthologies by Hugh Greene.

The show was produced by Thames Television and originally aired on ITV in Britain. The first series of thirteen episodes aired in 1971, the second in 1973.

By all accounts it was a class act, featuring a Who’s Who of early detectives, including stories featuring Horace Dorrington, The Thinking Machine, The Old Man in the Corner, Dr. John Thorndyke and Martin Hewitt (although in some episodes, he was called Jonathan Pryde), and featuring a slew of then up-and-coming young actors, including Donald Pleasence, John Neville, Derek Jacobi, Judy Geeson, Jean Marsh, Robin Ellis, Peter Vaughan, Donald Sinden and Jeremy Irons. But, unusual for its time, it went beyond the typical costume period fluffery of the time for a more nuanced look at the Victorian era, poking into its myriad hypocrisies, intellectual preoccupations and social problems.

In retrospect, it would have been nice if they’d included at least of few of the Lady Detectives of the era, many of whom rivaled the men in popularity back in the day. But hey, in 1973, even the guys must have been a hard sell.

TELEVISION

Episodes featuring private detectives:

  • THE RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
    (1971-73, ITV)
    Two seasons
    26 50-minute episodes
    Produced by Thames Television
    Starring Donald Pleasence, Donald Sinden, John Neville, Robert Stephens, Peter Vaughan, Derek Jacobi, Judy Geeson, Jean Marsh, Robin Ellis, John Thaw, Ronald Hines, Peter Barkworth, Jewremy Irons

    • SEASON ONEBuy this DVD
    • “A Message from the Deep Sea”
      Based on the story by R. Austin Freeman
      Starring John Neville as DR. JOHN THORNDYKE
    • “The Missing Witness Sensation”
      Based on the story by Ernest Bramah
      Starring Robert Stephens as MAX CARRADOS
    • “The Affair of the Avalanche Bicycle and Tyre, Co., Ltd.”
      Based on the story by Arthur Morrison
      Starring Peter Vaughan as HORACE DORRINGTON
    • “The Case of the Mirror of Portugal”
      Based on the story by Arthur Morrison
      Starring Peter Vaughan as HORACE DORRINGTON
    • “The Case of the Dixon Torpedo”
      Based on the story by Arthur Morrison
      Starring Ronald Hines as JONATHAN PRYDE (Martin Hewitt in the original story)
    • “The Affair of the Tortoise”
      Based on the story by Arthur Morrison
      Starring Peter Barkworth as MARTIN HEWITT
    • “The Case of Laker, Absconded”
      Based on the story by Arthur Morrison
      Starring Peter Barkworth as MARTIN HEWITT
      and Ronald Hines as JONATHAN PRYDE
    • SEASON TWOBuy this DVD
    • “The Absent-Minded Coterie”
      (February 26, 1973)
      Based on the story by Robert Barr
      Starring Charles Gray as EUGENE VALMONT
    • “Anonymous Letters”
      (March 19, 1973)
      Based on a short story by Balduin Groller
      Starring Ronald Lewis as  DAGOBERT TROSTLER
    • “The Moabite Cypher”
      (March 26, 1973)
      Based on the story by R. Austin Freeman
      Starring Barry Ingham as DR. JOHN THORNDYKE

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Ernest Brown for the lead.

2 thoughts on “The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (Television Series)

  1. All but two episodes of the second season are missing above? Details can be found at IMDb and elsewhere. I’m working my way through the first season, and visited your site for more info about Dorrington – interesting character!

    Like

    1. Hey, Toff. I’ve only listed the episodes featuring what are more-or-less private eyes. Which is what the site is allegedly about. But I did find one more in series two worth investigating.

      Like

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