My introduction to crime, as I’ve probably mentioned before, was from the opposite direction to most readers. Not from the detective’s point of view, but the criminal’s. Simon Templar, known as The Saint, who was hero of numerous novels and short stories, as well as several TV and film incarnations. With a twinkle in his eye, he ran rings around the inept but dogged Inspector Claude Eustace Teal of Scotland Yard.

Ivor Dean (l) as Claude Eustace Teal and Roger Moore as Simon Templar, The Saint

Ironically perhaps, I moved from the works of Leslie Charteris to those of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose fictional hero also made the police look somewhat like dolts. Sherlock Holmes was no criminal, although he was known to ponder that he would have made an excellent one. I devoured every Sherlock Holmes story and novel, and taking great delight in the black-and-white movies with Basil Rathbone in the title role and Nigel Bruce as the slightly bumbling Doctor Watson—always to my mind an unfair portrayal.

Rathbone and Bruce

Basil Rathbone (l) as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson

The first consulting detective and famous occupant of 221B Baker Street never lacked for TV and movie outings, some taken more seriously than others. I was a particular fan of the version starring Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke. This adaptation did not shy away from Holmes’ cocaine use, and Watson was far closer to the stout companion of the novels.

Brett and Hardwicke

Jeremy Brett (l) as Holmes and Edward Hardwicke as Watson

Those two versions of the Sherlock Holmes stories kept the characters in their original Edwardian setting—more or less. I seem to recall the Rathbone incarnation being stretched into wartime. But more recently there have been two very successful modern takes on the Baker Street detective which have approached things from very different angles.

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