Sherlock Holmes (1965) | Douglas Wilmer’s celebrated BBC TV series gets a UK DVD release

Sherlock Holmes (BBC TV)Douglas Wilmer gave a career-defining performance as the Baker Street sleuth in the classic 1964-1965 BBC TV series, Sherlock Holmes, which is now getting its first-ever UK DVD release from the BFI. The 4-disc set includes a number of special features, including two reconstructions of lost episodes, five audio commentaries, and an interview with Douglas Wilmer (who turned 95 in January).

Bearing a striking resemblance to the original Sidney Paget illustrations, Douglas Wilmer’s portrayal is possibly the closest to Conan Doyle’s original vision, and by playing him as ‘unsympathetic, vain and dangerous’, he’s widely regarded as ‘the only actor who ever got it right’ – although I do think Peter Cushing was also spot on when he took on the role for 16 stories in 1968. In 2012, Wilmer’s iconic status within the Holmes’ pantheon was cemented when he turned in a cameo appearance in the second series Sherlock story, The Reichenbach Fall, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Conan Doyle’s incumbent sleuth.

Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes

Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes in the 1965 BBC TV series and as the Diogenes Gent in the BBC1 Sherlock episode The Reichenbach Fall (2012)

The first story in the 1960’s BBC series, The Speckled Band, was originally produced as part of the 1964 drama strand, Detective, but 12 cases followed, beginning in January 1965. Alongside Wilmer, Nigel Stock played Holmes’ loyal companion, Dr John Watson – a role he continued to play alongside Peter Cushing in 1968, while the supporting cast included Peter Madden as Inspector Lestrade and Derek Francis as Mycroft Holmes.

Peter Wyngarde in The Illustrious Client

Peter Wyngarde with Douglas Wilmer in The Illustrious Client

The roll call of guest stars included Peter Wyngarde and Jennie Linden in the dark and disturbing The Illustrious Client; Patrick Wymark and Sheila Keith in the Gothic melodrama The Copper Beeches; Trevor Martin (aka the first stage Dr Who) in the three pipe problem mystery, The Red-Headed League; Anton Rodgers in the opium-tinged The Man with the Twisted Lip; and Joss Ackland and Roger Delgado in the final story, The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax.

Roger Delgado in The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

Douglas Wilmer, Nigel Stock and Roger Delgado in The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

WHAT’S IN THE 4-DISC SET
• All surviving episodes from the 1965 series (in black and white, and in their original broadcast ratio, with Dolby Digital 10.0 mono audio).

• Original 1964 Detective pilot episode The Speckled Band.

• Alternative Spanish audio presentation of The Speckled Band.

• Alternative title sequence for The Illustrious Client.

The Abbey Grange episode reconstruction, featuring a newly-filmed sequence of Douglas Wilmer reading the first half of the story, followed by all surviving original footage.

The Bruce-Partington Plans episode reconstruction, using all surviving original footage and original shooting scripts.

Douglas Wilmer … on Television (2012, 22 min): From his earliest days at RADA and the Old Vic to working at the BBC and his recent cameo in Sherlock, Wilmer looks back at his career and at the character that has won him a place in British TV history, recalling the highs and lows, and also pays homage to his old mate, Nigel Stock.

• Five audio commentaries, with director Peter Sasdy on The Illustrious Client, Douglas Wilmer on The Devil’s Foot and Charles Augustus Milverton, director Peter Cregeen on The Abbey Grange, and actors Trevor Martin and David Andrews on The Red-Headed League.

• Illustrated booklet with full episode guides, articles on Conan Doyle’s sleuth and Douglas Wilmer, and restoration notes.

Available everywhere and online at www.bfi.org.uk/shop

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About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on March 30, 2015, in BFI Player, British Film, Classic, Cult TV News, Must See, Must-See, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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