Michael Cox, 1934-2021

MICHAEL COX, to whom above all we owe the classic Sherlock Holmes television series starring Jeremy Brett, died in the early hours of the 29th of January. His health had been variable for several years, and his wife Sandra told us:

“He had been in and out of hospital since Christmas with various infections linked to lung cancer. On Wednesday he was transferred from hospital to a local nursing home but on Thursday evening he developed a chest infection/pneumonia. When the paramedics arrived he was too ill to be moved to hospital and died peacefully and with no distress shortly afterwards. He has not had an easy time since July and I take great comfort that his deteriorating situation is over for him. I think he had had enough and although he never complained his life was becoming more and more difficult.”

Michael joined the Society in 1984, the year in which he launched the internationally acclaimed Sherlock Holmes series on Granada TV. It was his project from the start. He chose Jeremy Brett to play Holmes, and recruited the other principal actors. He had the wonderful Baker Street set built. He insisted on the fidelity to the original stories that was such a feature of the series – at least until the television types who ran Granada were replaced by money men. And he stood down temporarily from his post as head of drama in order to produce The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, after which he acted as executive producer, returning as producer of the Casebook in 1991.

Michael was keen from the beginning to have the Society’s approval, inviting representatives to the press previews of the Adventures and the Return. In 1987 he arranged a private preview of The Sign of Four for the Society at the Granada Studios in Manchester. (There’s a photographic record of that memorable event, which included a tour of the Baker Street set and of the 221B interior set, on the Society’s Flickr gallery.) He was an excellent speaker at our 1989 Annual Dinner, and has been unfailingly supportive of the Society.

Almost from the founding of the Society, we have expressed our admiration of those who present outstanding portrayals of the Great Detective. Arthur Wontner, Carleton Hobbs, Peter Cushing and Douglas Wilmer have all been Honorary Members.  At last year’s Annual General Meeting, the Chairman was delighted to announce that Michael Cox too had accepted Honorary Membership.

Jeremy Brett and Michael Cox on location for “The Naval Treaty”

Sandra Cox told us that Michael was very appreciative of the award. It’s good to know that he was able to enjoy the honour, if only for a matter of weeks.

Roger Johnson & Jean Upton

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