Happy Birthday (almost) Jeremy Brett

This Sunday (November 3rd) sees the birthday of the late, great Jeremy Brett. Born in 1933 he would have been eighty years old. Alas, he died in 1995 at the age of 61.

For every generation there is a Holmes that stands above the rest. They rarely enjoy universal praise (and Brett was no exception to this) but their portrayal is certainly remembered even by those who did not venerate them as highly as others.

For the 1980s and 90s Brett was THE Holmes. Whether you liked his portrayal or not does not change this. His performance as Holmes crossed two decades and even the recent films of Robert Downey Jr were doing nothing to threaten his position in the Holmes pantheon.

For me, and many others of my generation, Brett simply was Holmes and he was ably partnered by two excellent Watsons in the persons of David Burke and Edward Hardwicke. I've said before that the enduring appeal of an actor as Holmes rests as much on the performance of his Watson as it does on his own performance. A good Holmes with a lousy Watson will be more remembered for his lousy Watson.

For the latest generation Cumberbatch and Miller are the Holmeses (or Sherlocks) that they prefer but even amongst this group Jeremy Brett is often a very close second. Many fans of BBC Sherlock have gone backwards to enjoy the Granada series while they wait for the latest episodes from the BBC/Hartswood.

Happy birthday sir. You are much missed.

Written by Alistair Duncan
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  1. Brett is still used, good or bad, to compare all others to. That says we still think about his performance as the base. If he wasn't so good, we would be using someone else.
    I agree with you completely.


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