Sherlock Holmes And The Baker Street Irregulars
Interview with the writers
Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle have built up a reputation writing both television and feature film scripts.
In addition to a major new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped for the BBC, which aired in 2005, Kurti and Doyle have written for the new version of the BBC's Robin Hood and ITV's Primeval.
They have feature film projects in development with Ruby Films, Heyday Films and Miramax.
Is it hard to retell such a popular story?
"We're not actually retelling a story – this is an original based on characters created by Conan Doyle – so really it was the best of both worlds. We were given fantastic building blocks by a great writer and then allowed to take them for a walk wherever we wanted."
How is this Sherlock Holmes story different to those previously seen?
"Although Conan Doyle mentioned the Irregulars, he never characterised them or went into who they were, how they'd become Irregulars, where they lived etc. We were able to play the mind game of trying to imagine what Conan Doyle would have said about them if asked."
How did you research for the story?
"We re-read the entire Sherlock Holmes collection – nice work if you can get it! We also visited industrial museums, the Toy Museum in Bethnal Green, the V&A, and read a lot of stuff about day-to-day life in Victorian London.
"We're huge fans of Conan Doyle – we read Holmes and Professor Challenger as kids and became instant addicts. No matter how old you get, the characters are still magnificent."
Do you ever have particular actors in mind when you are writing a character?
"We have two sets of actors in mind; we each imagine them in different ways – and we're both always wrong! We certainly never dreamt that we'd end up with such a great cast."
Were you excited to have Jonathan Pryce as your Holmes?
"Very excited – he's a brilliant Holmes and, in the paternal relationship between Holmes and the Irregulars, he brings out a warmer, softer side to the character which is really endearing.
"But it's not just Jonathan; we were really excited about the entire cast: Bill Paterson, Anna Chancellor and Michael Maloney… a dream team.
"In fact, we were so excited that we flew out to Dublin to see them filming, only to discover that Bill was the only one left – everyone else had gone home. Someone must have told them we were coming.
"The younger cast were also a revelation and worked incredibly hard on a very gruelling schedule. You only have to watch the show to see how well they did."
How do you write? Do you have to lock yourselves away from the rest of the world?
"We have an office in Southend-on-Sea. That is away from the rest of the world, isn't it?"
You're a dynamic writing team. How did you start out together?
"Richard was a sound engineer, Bev worked in the office checking his expenses claims and instantly knew a great work of fiction when she saw one.
"A management reprimand quickly turned into a pitch and, before we knew it, we were writing our first feature film – a silent movie about a boy who works as a mortuary assistant.
"Funnily enough, it never got filmed. Can't imagine why. (Trust us, our pitches have improved since then.)"
What are your plans for the future?
"It's very unlucky to talk about jobs in the pipeline. If we tell you what they are, they won't happen. But if we don't, you'll think we're unemployed.
"There are lots of really interesting irons in the fire – some aimed at the family audience, some much darker and two in development as cinema movies.
"And then, of course, fingers crossed, there could always be the return of the Baker Street Irregulars… we can think of loads more adventures they could get tangled up in."