The View from the East End (79)
By Inspector HopkinsDecember 2, 2007
The Granada Film Series (part 10)
by Inspector Hopkins
In finishing up this set of articles about the Granada Films, it would be an extreme disservice not to mention another of the very most important aspects of the series . . .
Location, location, AND location
Yes, as the old saying goes, there is nothing as important as location as far as real estate is concerned. And this also applies to the many wonderful locations chosen by Granada’s producers for the reproduction of our Canonical favourites. Indeed some of the buildings are awe inspiring and seem to be steeped in generations, if not centuries, of history and tradition.
As the newcomer to Sherlockiana will quickly notice, Watson does a superlative job in his descriptions of people and places in the Canon. Examples such as “Baskerville Hall” and the vast expanses of desolate and dangerous moor immediately come to my mind. Every time I read HOUN, I enjoy picturing those scenes, and they are well reproduced in the Film version of the story. The large and ancient Hall with its lofty ceilings, rows of portraits, and gloomy atmosphere makes a perfect setting and adds an air of mystery.
Certainly the “Priory School”, with its heavy stone walls, and castle-like tower is another prefect fit to what you might picture in your mind for that story. This is backed up by the gloomy, misty, gray-shrouded exterior appearance of “Holderness Hall” (reproduced on the label for disc 1 of the “Return” CD’s).
The observant Sherlockian will note that the same manor house was used for the exterior shots of both “Stoke Moran” (SPEC) and “Abbey Grange” (ABBE). He or she will further note that these two Films were cast by the same director, Susie Bruffin, and were the only two Films on which she worked. I leave it up to my readers as to whether or not this was coincidental.
Reginald Musgrave’s “Hurlstone Manor” (MUSG) was like a small castle, and even had a moat around it! It struck me immediately that it could have also been used to film VALL, and probably would have been, if Granada had finished the series as planned.
Although there are many, many examples of impressive interior shots, including Dr. Trevelyan’s rooms in Brook Street (RESI) and the authentic-looking rustic public house in SOLI, I was particularly impressed by all the location footage in “Shoscombe Old Place”. Between the beautiful and richly furnished interior, the magnificent outdoor scenery, the horses and the stables, and the creepy crypt scenes, this Film seemed to have a little bit of everything for everyone to enjoy. It included footage of the local public house, some subtle sarcastic dialogue, and the casting of the spaniel “Jasper” was quite consistent with the original Canonical description. All in all, a very well presented Film!
“It’s a Wrap”
And finally, let’s not forget the remarkable jobs performed by the major behind-the-scenes producers and writers of the Granada Film series! For the first two seasons, the series was produced by Michael Cox as the “Adventures” with David Burke as Watson. Cox also produced the “Casebook” set for the fifth season. June Wynham-Davies produced seasons 3, 4, 6, and 7 which encompassed the “Return”, the “Memoirs”, and all five of the “Feature Films”: SIGN, HOUN, CHAS, NOBL, and SUSS.
John Hawkesworth developed the entire series for television and also wrote many of the episodes. By sorting and scanning through my Database, I have been attempting to make some correlations between the producers, the writers, and the quality of the individual Films. Although I have not had much success in that regard, the one feature that does seem to present itself, however, is that all the Films that were dramatized by him are among my personal favourites.
In summary, Granada Television has done an outstanding job of presenting, publicizing, and preserving the wonderful work of Watson’s “literary agent”! They have succeeded in translating some of the very best and most loved fiction into a superb television series.
Although their efforts appeal to a broad range of television audience, we as Sherlockians can even more fully appreciate those efforts because we have read the Canon so much, and we discuss it so much. It is part of our lives and part of our existence, and, in that light, I will wager that no one reading these words will ever see a better rendition of the Sherlock Holmes stories as was done in The Granada Series with Jeremy Brett.
Until next time, when we will continue exploring the world of Sherlockiana, I am as always,