Wednesday, October 24, 2007

OTR: Sherlock Holmes from London with Carlton Hobbs & Norman Shelly



I love the way that this program begins. We have Watson and Holmes hailing a driver to take them to 221-B Baker Street at the end of an adventure. The announcer then says “From London…” and goes on to announce the up-coming Holmes tale. The program jumps right the adventures, again adapted from the original stories by Sir Arthur.

This time out British actor Carlton Hobbs (the rather Holmesian looking gentleman on the left) played the role of the Great Detective. Before and after that time he also appeared in a number of BBC television productions including I, CLAUDIUS & PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (his final appearance). He played Holmes for BBC radio in over 80 performances, from 1952-1969. Oddly, he had also played Watson earlier opposite Arthur Wontner as Holmes in 1943.

Norman Shelly (the older man who looks very much as we would picture the elder Watson), who was known primarily for his radio performances, played throughout Dr. John Watson. Shelly actually stood in for Winston Churchill in radio speeches when it was deemed too dangerous during WWII for the Prime Minister’s whereabouts to be known. In 1954, Shelly appeared in the dual roles of “Nana” and The Crocodile, opposite Mary Martin & Cyril Richard in Broadway’s PETER PAN. He repeated the performances, along with Martin & Richard in the televised versions in 1955 and 1960.

As with the earlier shows with Gielgud & Richardson, Hobbs and Shelly pull off fine performances as the famous duo. Also, as in the previous episodes (three of which are presented in the compilation) the adaptations are pretty straightforward and the characterizations spot on. The three here are all written by Michael Hardwick, who with his wife and fellow writer Mollie Hardwick (known for novelizations of the series “Upstairs Downstairs” and “Duchess of Duke Street”) wrote several Holmesian pastiches, including the novelization of the Billie Wilder film “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”.

You’ll all be happy to hear that this ends my ranting on the Holmes OTR programs for now. I’ll be picking up another audio book or OTR compilation pretty soon; so don’t get feeling too smug. Admit it, you click over to another blog as soon as you see what I’m writing about anyway, don’t you?
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