The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Over my little winter break I became obsessed with the 1980s ITV television series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Big time. There are 4 seasons streaming on Netflix as well as a few feature length specials peppered about, so I feel like I hit the jackpot of nerdy viewing pleasures. You realize that I’m telling you this in hopes that 1. Other Brit crime drama nerds will chime in with their own adoration and/or more recommendations and 2. That I waft the flames of your curiosity and you decide to join me in a tweedy sleuth cult.


I truly cannot find the words to express how much I love Holmes actor, Jeremy Brett. He is like the love child of Jon Hamm and Buster Keaton, but a little more manic or rhapsodic… or, well, coked out. Also, the clothing, sets and locations are BEAUTIFUL. Move over 1970s version of the 1930s–now I’m over the moon about the 1880s during the 1980s! SO GOOD.



I LOVE the most recent BBC Sherlock incarnation starring Benedict Cumberbatch (meow!), but I always thought he was a bit over the top. NOT SO! After watching Jeremy Brett, it’s clear that Cumberbatch really tapped into Brett’s complicated life’s work of peeling back the layers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s complex character. They’re both brilliant in the role, but I find Jeremy Brett’s performance to be more seamless, considered and more compelling.



I’d love to hear recommendations of shows you think are clever and addictive! Maybe you love Sherlock, too? JOIN MY TAILORED TWEED AND SPYGLASS CULT, YOU GUYS!







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32 Responses to “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”
  1. Roisin says:

    Aww! For me, Jeremy Brett is the definitive onscreen Holmes. I think he captured Holmes’s mania very well – but as you may know, he struggled with depression for most of his life, so maybe Holmes was a relatable character. The attention to detail in these adaptations is wonderful and I think their adaptation of The Final Problem, and the way they tied it up with The Red Headed League is fantastic. I’m not such a fan of the recent BBC adaptation (and in fact, the Brett Holmes was made by Granada and was screened on ITV)

    My partner is currently writing a book about adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, he’s a serious Sherlock scholar, and he pointed me in the direction of the rather marvellous Russian TV Holmes from the 70s called The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, it has recently become available on DVD: It’s very funny indeed!

    In addition, if you enjoy TV adaptations of great sleuths, I bet you’d love the 90s adaptations of the Georges Simenon Maigret novels starring Michael Gambon as Maigret: – these were filmed in Prague, I think, doubling for Paris, and the location filming is wonderful and Michael Gambon is just brilliant.

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Thanks so much, Roisin! I look forward to tracking these down. Best of luck to your partner with his book! His research must be so fun to hear about on a regular basis.

  2. sheila says:

    Jen!!! I’m so excited to learn this series is on netflix!! I was obsessed with it and I loved Jeremy Brett, such an amazing actor! Also, I have specs and a donegal tweed cape, I’ll be right there! I love the new series as well but I’ll definitely be revisiting the old one. As for other Brit nerd BBC/Masterpiece Theatre/Mystery type stuff, I remain the number one fan of Helen Mirren in the original BBC Prime Suspect which you can get on iTunes, and not sure if you can get these anywhere but we loved the old Inspector Morse series with John Thaw, another fav was an old series (1996-2004) Silent Witness with Amanda Burton (apparently there’s a modern version out now (on tonight), not sure if it’s any good, haven’t checked it out. Lately, we’ve enjoyed Garrow’s Law and Silk. If I think of any more, I’ll clue you in. teehee

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Thanks, Sheila! I WANT A DONEGAL TWEED CAPE!!!

      Yes, I loved Prime Suspect so much. She is such an incredible actress in this series. I’ve not seen the others you’ve mentioned, so I will put them on my list to track down. Thanks so much.

  3. Emily E. says:

    YESS!!! Jeremy Brett is THE DEFINITIVE Sherlock Holmes. I could watch him all day.
    I definitely love Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, but Jeremy Brett will always be Sherlock in my book.

  4. Oh! I’m going to have to check this out. I like the new Sherlock okay, but don’t love it. The Brett version looks like tweedy perfection!

    I second Sheila’s rec for Prime Suspect…Helen Mirren is just amazing. And it’s not crime, but another oldie but goodie is House of Elliott, about a British couture house (on Netflix, but not streaming).

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Yes–I started watching House of Elliott on DVD a few years ago, but got busy and never picked it up again. I’ll add it to the list to continue. Thanks, Karen!

  5. CW says:

    I’ve never seen Brett’s or Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes, but maybe one day! I did enjoy Sherlock (at times). Everyone seems to have their favorite Holmes.

    I’m not I’d call it a “crime drama,” but the BBC miniseries State of Play, from a few years back, is a very fun and exciting thriller. I highly recommend it! (It was remade into a movie with Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck a couple years ago.) I also heard that the BBC miniseries House of Cards, from the ’90s, is very good (and that, too, is being remade — into a Netflix miniseries with Kevin Spacey), but I haven’t seen it.

  6. Emily E. says:

    I always enjoyed Poirot (even though it’s a bit corny at times) and the new Agatha Christie’s Marple episodes are so much fun! Particularly the ones with Geraldine McEwan.
    Yes– Prime Suspect is amazing… and super intense. Same with Luther– such an amazing show… many ‘holy shit!’ moments.
    Oh, ‘Lewis’ is also a good one.
    I’m an absolute sucker for mysteries…

    • Jen McCabe says:

      I was wondering about Lewis and the Marple series! I’ll add them to my queue. IDRIS ELBA. YES. Luther is phenomenal–I cannot watch it alone! Chilling stuff. Thanks, Emily!

  7. Sold, so sold. Tweed ahoy!
    That said, I might wait a few months till it’s more wintry here in NZ before I watch it – I love snuggling into a good TV show over winter, and this could be just the thing.

  8. Jade Sheldon says:

    I haven’t seen this series yet, but you have definitely sold me! Sounds/looks divine…

  9. Ariana says:

    Foyle’s War which is streaming on Netflix is maybe my new all time favorite British drama. It is set in Hastings (a coastal town) during WW2. It really has everything, period costumes, fantastic acting, great stories, and history. This may sound a little corny but the other thing I love about it is that there is a sense of goodness and morality to the main characters, they are really trying to do the right thing even if it isn’t the accepted thing.

  10. What a coincidence- this series has also been available on ITV player in the UK- it’s like the on demand website for the channel that made that series (so like the BBC’s iPlayer) and it became my standard thing to watch late at night when my boyfriend had gone to bed (he doesn’t approve of period dramas!)
    Totally agree with recommendations for State of Play, Miss Marple, Poirot (the David Suchet ones), Inspector Morse, Lewis (I went to school with Lewis’ kids!). Have you seen Brideshead Revisited (the original series)? Another great, tiny TV series that was on channel 4 years ago is Ultra Violet, dont know if its on netflix- it’s like a cross between Spooks and True Blood- but much better than both! And it has a lot of big stars before they got famous- like Idris Elba (from the Wire) and actually the british guy from True Blood (his name escapes me). x

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Oh, yes! My grandmother, mom and one of my aunts were all very in love with Brideshead Revisited. I just saw that it was available for streaming on Netflix–I should watch it again! Ultra Violet is in my queue on Netflix, so I will watch that as well. I would have watched sooner had I realized that Idris Elba was in it! I was wondering if Poirot was good–I’ll add it. Thanks, Katie dear! xx

  11. Yesss, i love the new Sherlock Holmes and now have to check out this older one! I’m also obsessed with MI5 (Spooks in the UK) that’s another one that you can get streaming, so watch away! Also Doctor Who, the new Wuthering Heights on Masterpiece, and I just saw Matthew MacFadyen’s handsome mug staring at me from a bus this morning – he’s on a new detective show Ripper Street (and was also on MI5). British tv is the best.

  12. Leanne says:

    I’m IN! I’ve been a long-time Jeremy Brett/Holmes fan. He’s the one who always comes to mind (although I have to admit, I never thought of Buster Keaton when I watched him :) ).

    Proud to say, I got both of my children hooked on this version early. They both like the Benedict Cumberbatch version, but Brett is the real deal.

  13. Becka says:

    Yes! Isn’t he perfect as Holmes? I love this series, The Hound of the Baskervilles is such a classic and a favourite of ours. Richard introduced it to me and we’re going to re-watch it soon (maybe we’ll wait until winter, too!). I love Prime Suspect, too and am also a sucker for any Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse or Jonathan Creek type deal.

  14. oh Holland says:

    Love Cumberbatch’s Sherlock too, so I can’t wait to follow up on your Brett recommendation. Two other BBC series I’ve enjoyed immensely lately are London Hospital and Call the Midwife. I think they will appeal to a lot of Sherlock fans.

  15. Cathy says:

    Jeremy Brett is the definitive Holmes, and he always will be. It’s also probably the greatest dramatic performance of all time. Cumberbatch’s Holmes is brilliant, but nothing will ever eclipse Brett.

    My rec to you would be my favourite, the House of Eliott about two sisters starting a dressmaking business in 1920’s London which becomes a great fashion house. Feminism, beautiful clothes, and a wonderful relationship between Beatrice and Jack. You should love it! It’s available to view on YouTube (BBCWorldwide).

  16. Camille says:

    Yes yes yes! What a coincidence, I also started watching this version of Sherlock during the Holidays! I haven’t been a reader of your blog long enough to be sure, but I take you have already watched all Poirot series, as well as Brideshead Revisited? If not, I’d recommend both. Also, did you know the final episodes of Poirot, completing all book adaptations, will be coming out this year? Can’t wait to see Hastings again!

  17. love this show. it is amazing. my husband I became obsessed over winter break as well and watch an episode every evening. Everything about it is so good and the music is amazing and always perfect.

  18. Cortnie says:

    You had me at tweedy sleuths! I just added all of them to our queue. Yay!


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