The Sign of Four (1983)
Dr. John H. Watson
Major John Sholto
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983)
The Lorindy Company. Mapleton Films.
100 minutes. Colour.
Video and DVD Director
– Douglas Hickox
Producer – Otto Plaschkes
Writer – Charles Pogue
|Sherlock Holmes||Ian Richardson|
|Dr. John Watson||Donald Churchill|
|Sir Henry Baskerville||Martin Shaw|
|Jack Stapleton||Nicholas Clay|
|Beryl Stapleton||Glynis Barber|
|Geoffrey Lyons||Brian Blessed|
|Laura Lyons||Connie Booth|
|Mrs. Barrymore||Eleanor Bron|
|Dr. Mortimer||Denholm Elliott|
|Young Girl in Mire||Francesca Gonshaw|
|Inspector Lestrade||Ronald Lacey|
|Sir Charles||David Langton|
The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
|Director – Paul Seed|
|Writer – David Pirie|
|Dr. Joseph Bell||Ian Richardson|
|Arthur Conan Doyle||Robin Laing|
|Elspeth Scott||Dolly Wells|
|Sir Henry Carlyle||Charles Dance|
|Eustace Stark||Andrew John Tait|
|Lady Sarah Carlisle||Ruth Platt|
|Mary Conan Doyle||Sarah Collier|
|Dr. Gillespie||Stephen MacDonald|
|Crawford Senior||Bernard Horsfall|
Born on 7th April, 1934 in Edinburgh, Ian Richardson studied at College of Dramatic Art in Glasgow and went on to work for the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. His most famous role is undoubtedly Francis Urquhart, the scheming politician in House of Cards.
In 1982, American film-maker Sy Weintraub joined with English producer Otto Plaschkes for a proposed series of six Sherlock Holmes cases based on the original stories.
The writer was Charles Pogue, an American better known for his screenplay for David Cronenberg's The Fly. As it turned out, only two of the films were made because during the shooting of the second feature – The Hound of the Baskervilles – news broke that Granada was going to do all the Sherlock Holmes stories with Jeremy Brett.
Richardson later recalled in an interview with Scarlet Street: "That was the fly in our ointment. Initially, an unseen fly. You see, when Sy Weintraub was planning the films, he was unaware that the copyright on the Holmes stories was about to expire in England and he had to go through a great deal of legal negotiations with the Conan Doyle estate in order to gain permission to use them. However, he was totally ignorant of Granada's plans to film a series with Jeremy Brett…Weintraub was furious, because he'd paid a lot of money to get permission from the estate and here was Granada saying, 'Thank you – but we're going to do it.' So Weintraub took them to court. He had a very good case, apparently; but eventually there was an out of court settlement for an extraordinary sum of money – something like two million pounds – which was enough for Weintraub to cover his costs on both The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles, and make a profit, too. And so he wrapped the project up."
David Healy and then Donald Churchill were cast as Dr. John Watson. Other cast members included Clive Merrison (later to play Holmes in the BBC Radio series) as Bartholomew Sholto in The Sign of Four and Denholm Elliott (who had previously played Stapleton in Peter Cook's film) as Dr Mortimer in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Although a very British cast, there is a clear American influence, and Richardson recalls having to suggest corrections to the script and dialogue.
Although Ian Richardson has not since played Holmes, he had come across Joseph Bell while researching the role in 1982. When asked to play Bell in the The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes in 1999 he said: "..having played Holmes helped enormously, because the screenplay incorporated bits of Conan Doyle's writing. One scene in particular, where Conan Doyle gives Bell his father's watch and asks him to describe the owner, is lifted completely from The Sign of Four, one of the Sherlock Holmes films I did make. So I didn't even have to memorise my lines. It all came back."
The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes (1999) was shown in the UK on BBC2 TV on 4th and 5th January 2000. A serial killer, loose in 1870s Edinburgh, is pursued by history's real Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell (Ian Richardson), assisted by the young Arthur Conan Doyle (Robin Laing). Part fact, part fiction, the plot is based on the newly discovered activities of Bell, who was Doyle's real-life model for Sherlock Holmes.
Well received, ' a premise with a real touch of genius …the script skillfully weaved episodes from Doyle's own past into a richly textured, constantly wrong-footing plot. … with a denouement as clever as anything that had gone before…' (The Sunday Telegraph) a further series of films went into production in November 2000.
Murder Rooms recommenced shooting Monday 13th November 2000 in a dramatic East Anglian location near Blakeney in Norfolk, part of a new series in Autumn 2001 on BBC1.