The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (TV Series 1984–1985)


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (TV Series 1984–1985)

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate a scandal in Bohemia involving Irene Adler, chalk drawings of dancing men, the identity of a crooked man, a missing naval treaty, a solitary cyclist's mysterious follower, the dangers of a speckled band, and a blue carbuncle found in the crop of a goose.
IMDb   8.7 /10
TheMovieDb    8.1 /10
FilmAffinity   7.5 /10
Creator John Hawkesworth
Release Date1984-04-24
Runtime1h 0mins
GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery
Content RatingTV-PG (TV-PG)
AwardsTop Rated TV #94 | See the Top Rated TV as rated by our users.
CompanyGranada Television
Sherlock Holmes 13 episodes, 1984-1985
Dr Watson / ... 13 episodes, 1984-1985
Mrs Hudson / ... 8 episodes, 1984-1985

Sherlock Holmes (1984 TV series)

Sherlock Holmes is the overall title given to the series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations produced by the British television company Granada Television between 1984 and 1994. The first two series were shown under the title The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and were followed by subsequent series with the titles of other short story collections by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Of the 60 Holmes stories written by Doyle, 42 were adapted in the series, spanning 36 one-hour episodes and five feature-length specials. (Episode 40 incorporates the plot lines of both "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" and "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs".)

The series was broadcast on the ITV network in the UK and starred Jeremy Brett as Holmes. Watson was played by David Burke in the first series (Adventures) and by Edward Hardwicke from the second series (Return) onwards.

Brett’s portrayal remains very popular and is accepted by many as the definitive on-screen version of Holmes. Watson is portrayed as a competent associate, as in Conan Doyle's stories.


In the late Victorian era, Sherlock Holmes is the world's only consulting detective. His practice is largely with private clients, but he is also known to assist the police, often in the shape of Inspector Lestrade, when their cases overlap. His clients range from private citizens of modest means to members of royalty. His ability to spot clues easily overlooked by others, bring certain specialist knowledge — for example chemistry, botany, anatomy – and deductive reasoning to bear on problems enable him to solve the most complex cases. He is assisted in his work by military veteran Dr. John Watson, with whom he shares rooms at 221B Baker Street. He craves mental stimulation, and is known to relapse into depression when there are insufficiently complex cases to engage him.



  • Jeremy Brett as Holmes (1984–1994) - Brett had earlier portrayed Dr Watson on stage in the Los Angeles production of The Crucifer of Blood. Brett’s portrayal remains very popular and is accepted by many as definitive.
  • David Burke as Watson (1984–1985) - he had earlier played the villain "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet" for the 1965 BBC series (starring Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock). He left to join the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Edward Hardwicke as Watson (1986–1994) - he had earlier had a role in an adaptation of "The Greek Interpreter" for the 1968 BBC series
  • Rosalie Williams as Mrs Hudson (1984–1994)


  • Colin Jeavons as Inspector Lestrade (1985–1992) - he also played Moriarty in The Baker Street Boys (1982)
  • Eric Porter as Professor Moriarty (1985–1986)
  • Charles Gray as Mycroft Holmes (1985, 1988, 1994) - played the same character in the 1976 film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
  • Brian Miller as Inspector Bradstreet - "The Blue Carbuncle",
  • Denis Lill as Bradstreet (1986, 1988, 1994) - "The Man with the Twisted Lip", "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" and "The Mazarin Stone"

The role of the servant Joe Barnes who impersonates Lady Beatrice in the 1991 episode The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place was played by Jude Law, who later played Dr. Watson in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes and its 2011 sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Helen Ryan made two guest appearances in the show as different characters, appearing in The Adventure of the Norwood Builder as Mrs McFarlane, and in The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone as the Princess of Wales (a role she previously played in Edward the Seventh).


The programme ran for four series and 41 episodes: 36 ran for 50 minutes, and 5 were feature-length specials.

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes1324 April 198429 September 1985
The Return of Sherlock Holmes139 July 198631 August 1988
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes921 February 19913 February 1993
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes67 March 199411 April 1994


The series was initially produced by Michael Cox, with later episodes produced by June Wyndham Davies. It was developed for television by screenwriter John Hawkesworth, who also wrote many of the episodes (all based on individual Doyle stories). Other writers to adapt Doyle's stories in the series included Alexander Baron, Jeremy Paul, T.R. Bowen, and Alan Plater.

Brett had been approached in February 1982 by Granada to play Holmes. The idea was to make a totally authentic and faithful adaptation of the character's best cases. Eventually Brett accepted the role and was very attentive to discrepancies between the scripts he had been given and Doyle's original stories.

To shoot the series, a full-scale outdoor replica of Baker Street was constructed at Granada's studios in Quay Street, Manchester, which later formed a central part of the Granada Studios Tour tourist attraction, before that venue's closure in 1999.

The series came to an end owing to the death of Brett at the age of 61 from heart failure in 1995.

Unadapted stories

Though the Granada series is one of the most comprehensive screen adaptations of the Holmes canon, it nevertheless left 19 stories unadapted after Brett's death. These stories comprise two of the novels and 17 of the short stories:

  • A Study in Scarlet
  • "A Case of Identity"
  • "The Five Orange Pips"
  • "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb"
  • "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet"
  • "The Adventure of the Yellow Face"
  • "The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk"
  • "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott"
  • "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire"
  • "The Adventure of Black Peter"
  • "The Adventure of the Three Students"
  • "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter"
  • The Valley of Fear
  • "His Last Bow"
  • "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier"
  • "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" (Although the main theme of this story is present in "The Mazarin Stone")
  • "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane"
  • "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" (Although elements of this story are present in "The Eligible Bachelor")
  • "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman"

Other productions

During 1988–1989, Brett and Hardwicke appeared in a West End play, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, a two-hander written specially for them by the television series screenwriter Jeremy Paul.

In May 1992, Brett and Hardwicke appeared in a mini-episode (about ten minutes in length) as part of The Four Oaks Mystery, shown as part of the ITV Telethon 92 charity telethon. This episode formed the first of a four-part sequence of stories featuring the stars of four ITV detective shows of the time all separately working to solve the same mystery, broadcast at two episodes a night across one weekend. The other shows that produced mini-episodes for the special were Van der Valk, Taggart, and Inspector Wexford.


As well as being broadcast by ITV in the UK, the series was also seen overseas, particularly in the United States, where the episodes initially ran on PBS stations in the Mystery! strand. Later series gained co-production funding from Boston PBS broadcaster WGBH. The shows have also been transmitted on two US cable television stations, Disney Channel and A&E Network, and on CBC in Canada.

In the UK, the series has often been repeated: on Granada Plus; on ITV3; and on BBC Two, which ran the complete series on Saturday afternoons from 2003 to 2005. This makes it one of the very few programmes originally produced by an ITV company for broadcast on their own channel to have subsequently been shown on the BBC. In March 2006, the series returned to its original channel for the first time in over a decade, as part of the daytime television line-up on weekday afternoons.


The series is considered to present the most faithful screen adaptations of many of the Holmes stories, although liberties were taken with some plotlines and characters, particularly later in the run during the 1990s episodes (for instance The Mazarin Stone, filmed in 1994, combined the plot elements of two separate Conan Doyle stories).

A big change was Holmes quitting his cocaine habit in the episode "The Devil's Foot," which was done with the approval of Conan Doyle's daughter, when it was discovered that the series had a considerable child audience. Nonetheless, the series has been highly praised for the performance of Brett, its adherence to Doyle's original concept in the characterisation of Watson, its high production values, and its close attention to period detail.

Home media

The series has been released on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4, and has been repeated on ITV4 and BBC Two.

The complete series has also been released on VHS and on DVD, twice on the latter, with the most recent 2005 release taking advantage of the digitally remastered film prints originally prepared for the BBC Two repeat run. In December 2012, the series was released on Blu-ray in Japan, in Spain in May 2013, in France in October 2013, and in the US in September 2014.

Region 1

MPI Home Video has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1, in various incarnations. MPI released The Adventures & The Return in single disc volumes as well as complete collections. The Casebook & The Memoirs were released as a single collection box sets. In addition, on 25 September 2007, a complete series set was released featuring all 41 episodes in one complete collection for the very first time.

DVD NameEp #Release Date
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Boxed Set Collection1330 April 2002
The Return of Sherlock Holmes DVD Collection1326 August 2003
The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes DVD Collection928 September 2004
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes DVD Collection626 October 2004
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series4125 September 2007

Region 2

ITV DVD has released the entire series in various collections as well as a complete series box set.

DVD NameEp #Release Date
Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures / The Return2621 February 2005
Sherlock Holmes: The Case Book / The Memoirs1521 February 2005
Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Collection4121 February 2005 and 24 August 2009

The Complete Collection mentioned above has English subtitles only. The complete series was released on Blu-ray in Spain in 2013. Though native to Spain, the 10 disc set is region-free and thus can be played in any region of the world. The Complete Collection was released a second time on Blu-ray in Germany in 2016. It has German subtitles only but German and English soundtracks. This is a 14 disc set and is marked region 'B'.