Ian Richardson

In my book Eliminate the Impossible I talk at some length about selected actors to have played Holmes on screen. One of those actors who seems to have been almost forgotten in the role by all apart from Sherlockian societies is Ian Richardson (Wikipedia article).

Richardson played Holmes (right) in TV movies of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Sign of Four. The latter was the first filmed and was the best of the two despite some tinkering with the original plot. More detailed information on both films can be found in the excellent book Starring Sherlock Holmes.

There would have been more but the producers found themselves in direct competition with Jeremy Brett's Granada series and eventually withdrew.

I do consider Brett's portrayal to have been superior but I also wish that Richardson had done at least one or two more appearances as his Holmes had much to appreciate.

Richardson was doomed to suffer the same curtailment with his next Sherlockian outing as Holmes inspiration Dr Joseph Bell in Murder Rooms.

Again he gave an excellent performance but after the initial movie and four follow up episodes the series was discontinued. See the Wikipedia article for more details.

Richardson seems destined to be most remembered for his turn as Francis Urquhart in The House of Cards and its sequels. This is a shame as he deserves to be remembered for so much more.


  1. Very astute comments. It is a great shame that he didn't play Holmes a little more, but he was relieved not to have had the character overcome him as it did with Jeremy Brett.

    His role as Joseph Bell was, in my opinion one of his best ever. Part of the funding had already been secured for a further series when the BBC decided to pull the plug.

  2. That I didn't know. That makes it all the more frustrating. It is also an opportunity lost as I know of no one who could play the role now.