Some thoughts on adaptation regarding Sherlock Holmes

In 2013, I attended a lecture series at the University of London called Sherlock Holmes – Between Past and Present. One of the standout lectures was from James Brown about ‘Holmes and the Moving Image’, which examined the idea that Sherlock Holmes is literally a timeless figure.

Early Holmes adaptations updated to the stories to present day but kept Holmes firmly in the 1890s creating the everlasting image of the great detective with his deerstalker, Inverness cape, and pipe. The first two Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce films produced by Fox did attempt to place the stories in their original setting but when Universal took over they updated the stories to ‘present day’ but kept Holmes ‘ageless and locked in a time bubble’. It wasn’t really until the Granada series that they really tried to put Holmes back into the Victorian age, going to great lengths to pinpoint a date and stick as closely as possible to it. (Alastair Duncan pointed out that the Ronald Howard series also attempted to place Holmes in the Victorian age but I’m not very familiar with that adaptation so don’t know how much they stuck to their Victorian setting).

There is really nothing new in the idea of updating Sherlock Holmes, the majority of Sherlock Holmes have updated the stories – Basil Rathbone’s Holmes makes use of modern technology, as does Benedict Cumberbatch but these are not alien to the character of Holmes, the Sherlock Holmes of the original stories was a modern man and used up to date modern technology to aid him in his activities so there is nothing revolutionary about Sherlock Holmes searching the Internet or listening to the wireless because he is very much a man of his time, whatever time that may be.

Another panel I enjoyed was a discussion about Holmes as a social explorer in Luke Seaber’s paper on ‘Sherlock Holmes as a Social Explorer’ which linking in with Benjamin Poore’s paper on ‘Holmes as a Master of Disguise’ suggested that because Holmes is able to adopt different persona’s efficiently he does have a very good understanding of social cues and an understanding how those social cues differ in the class of society he was moving in. Seaber suggested that Holmes’s understanding of people comes from his ability to categorise people, like Henry Mayhew in his classification of people in ‘London Labourer and the London Poor’ (1851) so essentially, Holmes takes part in ‘incognito social exploration’ through his use of effective disguise.

An idea also suggested during one of the panels was that Sherlock Holmes himself was a character and that he was always acting, so did Watson really know his friend? I was especially reminded of all this with regards to the most recent series of Sherlock. Sherlock is very much part of the long tradition of adapting the character of Sherlock Holmes, rather than the stories…although Sherlock is perhaps closer than most of the looser adaptations.


Hello, this is a new URL

You’re here because you followed the link from ‘starshipteapot’ – thanks for sticking with me regular readers. Hello anyone visiting. Title is temporary as I was having a giggle with a friend about that stage direction (from ‘Winter’s Tale’) recently and it’s been my default comment for the last few days, sorry ’bout that 😛

May as well give you an update…!

NaNoWrimo – officially abandoned. I don’t have time, also I’m not fantastic at working under pressure. I will continue to work on both my stories though and it has encouraged me to continue with the sitcom I started planning a few years ago.

Getting Fit/Weight Loss – I’ve lost 6lbs, which feels like a good start. The swimming is going well, I purchased a (second hand) PoolMate so can keep track of the number of laps & stroke count. Should be fun (I like data). Incidentally, if anyone wants to add me as a friend on FitBit, you can do so here

Photography – got chatting to the theatre photographer the other day. I showed him some of my photos and he was impressed. It was a nice ego boost. just chatting about it reminded me how much I enjoy getting out and about with my camera. I think this can tie in quite nicely with my getting fit plans as I can go for walks with my camera.

Well, it’s been some time

Not so long ago I intended to do regular things with this blog, like review the books I’d read and that sort of thing. At some point I will post the stories I wrote as part of my creative writing module as…well, why not? I posted my spooky story awhile back and I’ve been thinking about going back to it as while writing I was restricted by the word-count and based on my tutors feedback and other comments there was a lot more I could have done with it.

The good news is that after several months of casual & cover work, I’m now back into full time work as I start on a new show on Friday. I my OU module starts very shortly so I’m doing my best to get as much as the reading done. Struggling quite spectacularly with ‘Dombey & Son’, I am not a Dickens fan (although I do think the opening of ‘A Christmas Carol’ is one of the best openings to a story).

Anyway this is a bit of a non-entry, just a sort of “still alive” as I try to figure out what I want to do with this blog.

Oh, iTunes…

During a recent bout of insomnia I decided to put all my A210 ‘approaching literature’ CDs onto my iPod. iTunes has always had some amusing database fails, but these two made me giggle:

Disc 10 is ‘A Doll’s House Act II’


Disc 11 is ‘A Doll’s House Act III’


(Yes, I do call my iPod ‘the Titanic’, I find it amusing when it says ‘syncing the Titanic’)