The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (TV series)

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The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes
The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (TV series).jpg
Genre Anthology
Period drama
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes26
Running time50 minutes
Production company Thames Television

The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes is a British anthology mystery television series produced by Thames Television which was originally broadcast on the ITV Network. There were two series of 13 fifty-minute episodes; the first aired in 1971, the second in 1973. The programme presented adaptations of short mystery, suspense or crime stories featuring, as the title suggests, detectives who were literary contemporaries of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.


The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes took its inspiration – and title – from a series of published anthologies by Hugh Greene, elder brother of author Graham Greene and the former director-general of the BBC. [1] Hugh Greene is credited on the programme as a creative consultant. [2]

Recurring characters

Episode list

Series 1 (20 Sep – 9 Dec 1971)

No.TitleFictional Detective(s)Author(s) of Original StoryActor(s) who portrayed detective(s)
1x1A Message from the Deep Sea Dr John Thorndyke, forensic scientist R. Austin Freeman John Neville
1x2The Missing Witness Sensation Max Carrados, blind detective Ernest Bramah Robert Stephens
1x3The Affair of the Avalanche Bicycle & Tyre Co. Ltd. Horace Dorrington, corrupt detective Arthur Morrison Peter Vaughan
1x4The Duchess of Wiltshire's DiamondsSimon Carne, gentleman thief Guy Boothby Roy Dotrice
1x5The Horse of the Invisible Thomas Carnacki, occult detective William Hope Hodgson Donald Pleasence
1x6The Case of the Mirror of Portugal Horace Dorrington, corrupt detective Arthur Morrison Peter Vaughan
1x7Madame SaraDixon Druce, trade investigator L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace John Fraser
1x8The Case of the Dixon TorpedoJonathan Pryde, [n 1] enquiry agent Arthur Morrison Ronald Hines
1x9The Woman in the Big Hat Lady Molly of Scotland Yard Baroness Orczy Elvi Hale
1x10The Affair of the TortoiseMartin Hewitt, working-class detective Arthur Morrison Peter Barkworth
1x11The Assyrian RejuvenatorRomney Pringle, reformed con artist"Clifford Ashdown" (R. Austin Freeman and John Pitcairn) Donald Sinden
1x12The Ripening RubiesBernard Sutton, professional jeweller Max Pemberton Robert Lang
1x13The Case of Laker, AbscondedMartin Hewitt and Jonathan Pryde [n 1] Arthur Morrison Peter Barkworth and Ronald Hines

Series 2 (29 Jan – 7 May 1973)

No.TitleFictional Detective(s)Author(s) of Original StoryActor(s) who portrayed detective(s)
2x1The Mysterious Death on the Underground Railway Polly Burton, [n 2] lady journalist Baroness Orczy Judy Geeson
2x2Five Hundred CaratsInspector Lipinzki, South African police detective George Griffith Barry Keegan
2x3 Cell 13 Professor Van Dusen, the Thinking Machine Jacques Futrelle Douglas Wilmer
2x4The Secret of the MagnifiqueJohn Laxworthy, reformed criminal E. Phillips Oppenheim Bernard Hepton
2x5The Absent-Minded CoterieEugene Valmont, private investigator Robert Barr Charles Gray
2x6The Sensible Action of Lieutenant HolstLieutenant Holst, Danish police detectivePalle Rosenkrantz John Thaw
2x7The Superfluous Finger Prof Van Dusen, the Thinking Machine Jacques Futrelle Douglas Wilmer
2x8Anonymous LettersDagobert Trostler, Viennese sleuth"Balduin Groller" (Adalbert Goldscheider) Ronald Lewis
2x9The Moabite Cypher Dr John Thorndyke, forensic scientist R. Austin Freeman Barrie Ingham
2x10The Secret of the Fox HunterDuckworth Drew of the Secret Service William Le Queux Derek Jacobi
2x11The Looting of the Specie RoomMr Horrocks, ship's purser C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne Ronald Fraser
2x12The Mystery of the Amber BeadsHagar Stanley, Gypsy detective Fergus Hume Sara Kestelman
2x13The Missing Q.C.sCharles Dallas, defence barrister"John Oxenham" (William Arthur Dunkerley) Robin Ellis

DVD availability

The first series was released on a 4-disc Region 2 DVD set by Network Distributing on 15 June 2009. [3] Acorn Media released a Region 1 version of this set on 1 September 2009. [4] Series Two was released on a Network DVD 4-disc Region 2 release on 15 February 2010; [5] Acorn followed with a Region 1 version on 27 April.



  1. 1 2 Jonathan Pryde is an original TV creation, replacing Martin Hewitt from Arthur Morrison's stories.
  2. The screenplay for this episode rewrites the original story to make Polly Burton, the secondary character in Baroness Orczy's "The Old Man in the Corner" stories, the detective in this episode.

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  1. History of the BBC: the 1960s
  3. Network DVD
  4. Acorn Media press release, accessed 23 July 2009 Archived 20 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Network DVD