Entertainment & Arts

Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss answers critic in verse

Mark Gatiss Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gatiss is a co-writer on Sherlock and also appears as Holmes' brother Mycroft

Sherlock writer and cast member Mark Gatiss has responded in verse to a critic who accused the show of turning the character into "Sherlock Bond".

In his poem, Gatiss said the critic was wrong to infer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective was "no man of action".

"From [Basil] Rathbone through [Jeremy] Brett to [Benedict] Cumberbatch dandy, With his fists Mr Holmes has always been handy," his poem continues.

The updated version of Conan Doyle's stories returned on New Year's Day.

In The Six Thatchers, Cumberbatch's sleuth was seen investigating the mysterious destruction of busts of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Writing in The Guardian, Ralph Jones said the show had taken "ill-advised liberties with Conan Doyle's stories" and had begun "to feel implausible".

Image copyright BBC/Hartswood Films/PA
Image caption Sherlock returned to BBC One on 1 January

"There is obviously an audience and an appetite for abseiling assassins, machine-gun shootouts and Benedict Cumberbatch getting sopping wet while kicking ass in an expensive suit," he continued.

"But, like the perverse instincts that lurk in the palaces of our minds, this is an appetite that ought to be resisted."

In a letter to the same newspaper, Gatiss used his five-verse poem to suggest Jones was "ignoring the stories that could have put [Sherlock] in traction".

He went on to cite the short story The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist, in which he says there is "boxing on show".

Response mirrors Conan Doyle's

"In hurling Moriarty over the torrent, did Sherlock find violence strange and abhorrent?" the five-verse ode continues.

"There's no need to invoke in yarns that still thrill, Her Majesty's Secret Servant with licence to kill."

Gatiss's response mirrors a poem Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself wrote in 1912, entitled To An Undiscerning Critic.

The poem was a response to another poem, written by US humorist Arthur Guiterman, that suggested Sherlock Holmes should not disparage other fictional detectives.

The fourth series of Sherlock continues on Sunday with The Lying Detective, which will mark Toby Jones's debut as the villainous Culverton Smith.

Gatiss's poem in full

Here is a critic who says with low blow

Sherlock's no brain-box but become double-O.

Says the Baker St boy is no man of action -

whilst ignoring the stories that could have put him in traction.

The Solitary Cyclist sees boxing on show,

The Gloria Scott and The Sign of the Fo'

The Empty House too sees a mention, in time, of Mathews,

who knocked out poor Sherlock's canine.

As for arts martial, there's surely a clue

in the misspelled wrestle Doyle called baritsu.

In hurling Moriarty over the torrent

did Sherlock find violence strange and abhorrent?

In shooting down pygmies and Hounds from hell

Did Sherlock on Victorian niceties dwell?

When Gruner's men got him was Holmes quite compliant

Or did he give good account for The Illustrious Client?

There's no need to invoke in yarns that still thrill,

Her Majesty's Secret Servant with licence to kill

From Rathbone through Brett to Cumberbatch dandy

With his fists Mr Holmes has always been handy.

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