JB: Yes. Yes, truthfully. But then this miracle occurred (gestures to EH) and, Edward is a very gentle person and very sensitive and so tried very hard not to upset or shake the boat in any way, and succeeded. What could have been a disaster for the series turned into a bonus. It was a great shock at the beginning, because David and I had been together for about a year and a half, we'd built up a great rapport and he wanted to go home because he had a young son called Tom, who was then 2 - he's a bit older now - and wanted to be with him. In actual fact it was his wife who suggested you, wasn't it? EH: Yes, we were working together. JB: That's right. EH: And David had been trying to decide what he was going to do. RM: How did you feel about being cast in the part? EH: Well Jeremy is very generous about it, but it in actual fact it couldn't have been made easier. For one thing I think you start off with an advantage, in that there is a definite visual picture of these two men, I mean you think of Watson with the bowler hat and perhaps Holmes in the dark coat, so in a sense, I don't think I looked all that different once you've got all the clothes on. Everybody made it so easy, Jeremy was incredibly helpful, Michael, our producer - the greatest compliment was, I don't know, the second episode I was in and I was called David several times, and I thought that's all right. RM: Was it Lord Olivier, was it to you? He's quoted as saying when a well-known actor was taking over an established part - it was you, yes - 'never be afraid to pinch his best bits, dear boy'. Have you taken any of David's -? EH: - well it's all there, in a sense, we're all terribly lucky with these characters because it's there in the books. And yes you do try - curiously enough that was taking over in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern which I think has again, that relationship, you know, the brain box and the slightly slower character. But yes he did say that, pinch it. JF: You come from a very strong acting family, your father Sir Cedric Hardwicke, he actually played Holmes, did he not. EH: Yes I didn't know this until we were filming in Liverpool and somebody came on the set who was a sort of Holmes buff - and there are a lot of them around - and produced this tape and said 'have you heard this?' It was a radio broadcast, which he did in the forties, about '45, doing 'The Speckled Band'. I think it was only the one off thing - I had no idea. JF: And you played Watson once, a long time ago. JB: Yes that was handy. JF: Yes, as an insight into the character? JB: Yes, it was very handy, in the circumstances, it was a very good thing that I did. RM: When you describe Holmes as the elusive pimpernel, the closer you get the further he moves away, does that indicate that there isn't a final definition to Sherlock Holmes? JB: No I think it's probably better read, truthfully. I think that partly thanks to Granada, we've gone back to the books. I met a lady the other day called Templer and she's lecturing in Pennsylvania and they're using the films to stimulate the children to get back to reading. The fact that we've done the original stories has been a good way of introducing them to Doyle's writing. No I don't think it's possible to capture all the essences on film, no I don't. That's why it's so fascinating to do.
JB: They did try with Dr. Watson as a woman with Joanna Woodward - I haven't seen it. RM: Really? JB: Yes, yes Joanna Woodward. JF: Extraordinary. Who played Holmes? JB: George C. Scott I think. EH: That's two things I've heard this morning which are deeply worrying. (All laugh) RM: Well lets talk about the change you would have experienced, when Edward you took over from David Burke. Were you worried - not about him coming - but the change in your sparring partner on screen?
JF: Difficult though, for you to sort of inject, because he is, isn't he, always so subservient to Holmes. Holmes always has the upper hand in every scene EH: Well, I mean Watson writes the stories, the assumption is that he's keeping the record and I mean Holmes is a genius. It's an interesting idea that you have a fictional genius, one of the few writers who has created a fictional genius and I think anybody is going to be stupid or seem to be a bit slow by comparison. RM: Yes, absolutely. EH: Inevitably. RM: This is the third time we've spoken to you, Jeremy, how many years is it now since you've been playing Holmes? JB: I was asked in '82 and started into '83. RM: Yes, yes, 8 or 9 years. Has it been, Judy was saying earlier, a kind of journey of discovery for you? Do you know see him differently than you did 4 years ago and from that point - JB: - Yes, I see him as the elusive pimpernel still, just in front of me. I can't catch him. I think it's why I him so fascinating to play 'cause I can't reach him. It is the most fascinating part I've ever played. JF: I loved what Conan Doyle was saying earlier in the tape, that he started writing Sherlock Holmes stories because he got irritated with the detective stories he was reading, I suppose the Agatha Christie type thing where there is a sudden happening and ah ha, we therefore know the truth. There is no clear deductive process, what fascinated him was the deductions. JB: - that's right. JF: And that's what fascinates you, isn't it, and always has done. JB: I think that it's always been the thing that has fascinated me about him, the fact that he not only has brilliant logic, brilliant observation but he also has a brilliant feminine intuition...(smiles) which looking at Doyle with that big whoop-whoop moustache you'd hardly imagine he would have. But I think he endowed Holmes with that as well. You see, what is fascinating is that dear gentle man created these two people and therefore I do think they are two halves of the same pod. RM: Yes, yes. JF: That dear gentle man created a character in Holmes who has an extremely dark side to him. JB: Yes, I think looking at Stonyhurst then I think I can understand where the chill might have come up his spine. Not a great warm place. RM: He seemed an affable old buffer, talking there, but he wrote about a quality of friendship in a very sensitive way, which you both now interpret in a television production. This great bond borne between two Victorian men. JB: It was friendship when friendship was allowed and respectable. EH: The great era of the club and I think they are both clubbable characters. I mean that's gone now, that sort of male friendship. JF: Yes, but as you yourself noted, I read that the relationship between Holmes and Watson is the basis for a lot of other relationships in fictional detective work ever since, particularly on the telly, you quoted things like Starsky and Hutch. EH: True. Yes well I think, Jeremy once said all these programmes have a book-end; they have a scene at the beginning and a scene at the end, and to some extent they are the modern version of Holmes and Watson. JB: They work as a double act to a large degree. It's like John Thaw and Kevin. We all have to relate off somebody and maybe this was one of the originals - friendships - but it's been taken forward because it's a very good format. JF: It's interesting that it always works with two men, as well, isn't it, certainly in the detective field. I suspect what you're talking about, the era of the Victorian gentleman's club and everything, that it was sort of acceptable to show that kind of soft spot or emotion for each other in the tight world of the detective format.
EH: Well I'm glad I didn't see that before we started - (all laugh) RM: Sue him for libel. RM: What do you think? JB: Don't you think he meant, the letters were saying he was stupid, but in actual fact he wasn't stupid, it was just the way they picked him up. RM: I think you're right, yes. JB: Got poor Doyle off the hook. RM: It's true though isn't it that Watson was traditionally played as a bit of a dimwit, and you know, a sidekick. That's gone now. I mean, your predecessor David Burke and now you are carrying on a new tradition as playing him as a bit of a clever-clogs. JB: That was Michael Cox's idea, our producer, who wanted to put literature straight. I think that was why the series was originally thought of.
RM: Well, it's wonderful to have a bit of television history, really, here. You must have felt that when you joined actually, knowing you were stepping into what has become a legend, and will be viewed and screened in probably 30 years from now.EH: Well it's very intimidating...I have to say. (laughs) JM: You said on the set he's (points to JB), watching him is wonderful because he's like one of the Victorian actor managers. EH: Well he-(JB laughs and looks at EH expectantly for an explanation) EH: - he's been marvellously...he creates a wonderful atmosphere, which is as they did, but he's got an amazing ability to bring that Edwardian thing onto the screen, which is very difficult to do. RM: I think we've got a faint sniff of why it works so well between the two of you in the role. Thank you both very much indeed. RM: Well joining us now is Jeremy Brett and as Conan Doyle might have put it, 'his rather stupid friend Edward Hardwicke'. Holmes and Watson in ITV's latest series. You see this is interesting, because you're carrying on the tradition in the Granada series of playing Watson as an intelligent man, and yet we just heard Conan Doyle saying he's a rather stupid man. He didn't write him as a stupid man, did he? Interview de Jeremy Brett et Edward Hardwicke (1991) LIEN VERSION FRANCAISE