The Three Garridebs was broadcast by NBC on 27 November 1937 from the stage of New York City's Radio City Music Hall by the American Radio Relay League. The live presentation was augmented with filmed footage to link scenes together. Luis Hector played the detective, and William Podmore played Dr. Watson. A second broadcast, in 1949, of The Adventure of the Speckled Band starred Alan Napier and Melville Cooper.
Until 1951, Holmes' appearances on television were largely confined to special broadcasts, including an hour-long parody, Sherlock Holmes in the Mystery of the Sen Sen Murder on the 5 April 1949 episode of NBC's Texaco Star Theatre, a satire featuring Milton Berle and Victor Moore as Holmes and Watson, with a guest appearance by Basil Rathbone as "Rathbone of Scotland Yard".
The first television series was produced in the UK. Originally, Van Dyke Pictures had intended its half-hour adaptation of The Man with the Twisted Lip, starring John Longden as Holmes and Campbell Singer as Watson, to be the first of a six-episode series; only the one episode was broadcast in March 1951, but no further episodes were commissioned. In June, the BBC broadcast its own pilot, The Mazarin Stone, with Andrew Osborn as Holmes and Philip King as Watson. The BBC then produced the first television series of 35-minute live Sherlock Holmes adventures with a new producer and new actors (Alan Wheatley as Holmes and Raymond Francis as Watson) and six Conan Doyle stories were adapted by C.A. Lejeune, a film critic for The Observer.
Basil Rathbone reprised his role as the detective in a half-hour live presentation for the 26 May 1953 episode of CBS' Suspense. The Adventures of the Black Baronet was adapted by Michael Dyne from a story by John Dickson Carr and Adrian Conan Doyle, with Martyn Green playing Watson. Intended as a pilot, it was not selected for series programming by any network.
Ronald Howard The first and only American television series of Sherlock Holmes adventures, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was broadcast in Autumn 1954. 39 half-hour original stories were produced by Sheldon Reynolds for NBC and filmed in France by Guild Films starring Ronald Howard as Holmes and Howard Marion Crawford as Watson. WGBH is currently restoring this series, with 35 of the 39 episodes being cleaned up for broadcast. These are currently being broadcast in the Boston area.
Douglas Wilmer Meantime, BBC Television continued to produce Holmes adventures. A 1964 production of The Speckled Band was followed by a series of 12 adaptations by David Goddard in 1965. Starring Douglas Wilmer, an honorary member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, and Nigel Stock, who stayed on to play opposite Peter Cushing when Wilmer left, the series is considered to be one of the best and The Times noted that Wilmer bore an "uncanny resemblance" to the illustrations by Sydney Paget.
The 1968 series, with Peter Cushing, capitalised on Cushing's work with Hammer Films with elements of horror and violence.
There have been a number of made-for-television films since. The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1972 with Stewart Granger as Holmes and Bernard Fox as Watson, Leonard Nimoy in the fifteen minute The Interior Motive in 1975; The Return of the World's Greatest Detective, a pilot with Larry Hagman and Sherlock Holmes in New York with Roger Moore and Patrick Macnee.
Televised stage plays have included Frank Langella's Sherlock Holmes and The Crucifer of Blood with Charleton Heston. Other overseas television productions have included The Longing of Sherlock Holmes (Touha Sherlocka Holmes) for Czechoslovakian television in 1972 and a series of five 80-minute adaptations of Conan Doyle's stories featuring leading Soviet actors Vassily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin as Holmes and Watson from 1979 to 1986.
In 1977, Christopher Plummer, better known for the role in Murder by Decree, starred in ITV's adaptation of Silver Blaze with Thorley Walters as Watson. The more ambitious 24-part Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson in 1979 featured Geoffrey Whitehead as Holmes and Donald Pickering as Watson.
UK series in the 1980s included Tom Baker's performance in the 1982 four-part BBC adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles with Terence Rigby as Watson and ITV screened Young Sherlock with Guy Henry.
The BBC produced The Baker Street Boys with Roger Ostime as Holmes, although the Baker Street boys were the stars of the series. Ian Richardson played Homes twice in 1983, in The Hound of the Baskervilles with Donald Churchill as Watson and in The Sign of the Four with David Healey.
The Granada Television series with Jeremy Brett has been one of the most popular to date. This series, begun in 1984, continued until 1994, when the untimely death of Brett ended the series, with forty two stories from the canon completed.
Peter Cushing reappeared to star in Channel 4's The Masks of Death in 1987 with John Mills as Watson and The Return of Sherlock Holmes on CBS starred Michael Pennington. In 1990, Edward Woodward starred in the Hands of a Murderer with John Hillerman as Watson, and Christopher Lee starred in Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady and Sherlock Holmes; Incident at Victoria Falls with Patrick McNee as Watson. McNee also starred as Holmes the 1996 production Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Temporal Nexus. In 1993, Anthony Higgins played Holmes in Sherlock Holmes Returns.
The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, Detective, an American children's series, ran from 1997 to 1999, and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (1999), the cartoon series, with "A defrosted Holmes teamed with a robotic Watson and a female Inspector Lestrade (stopping) the criminal rampage of Moriarty's clone" continues to be produced.
In Canada, Matt Frewer ("Max Headroom"), starred in The Hound of the Baskervilles last year, returns as Sherlock Holmes in the second of four original films for Odyssey. The Sign of Four was premiered on the Odyssey Network on Friday, March 23rd 2001.
Many of the TV productions have been released on video.The Sherlock Holmes Society of London occasionally shows the better or rarer productions, so look out for announcements in the events section or in Society Film Shows.