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The Sound of Sherlock

BBC Radio's incarnations of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusted friend and companion Dr John Watson from down the years.

Cedric Hardwicke, 1945

With a confidence in highlighting the darker aspects of the character, stage and screen actor Cedric Hardwicke was unique in his portrayal of Holmes at the time. He performed as the legendary sleuth in The Speckled Band in 1945 which is one of the most popular short stories amongst fans and was rated by Conan Doyle as his best.

Carleton Hobbs, 1952-1969

Legendary radio actor Carleton Hobbs returned to the airwaves as the great detective for over 17 years. With Norman Shelley as Holmes's friend and companion Dr Watson, these extremely popular incarnations of the crime fighting duo are, to many people of a certain generation, the definitive renditions.

John Gielgud, 1954-55

Acting knights John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson took up the roles of Holmes and Watson in 16 radio adaptations in 1954-55. One of the tales they performed was the classic 'Final Problem', in which Holmes is knowingly lured to the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland where he meets “the Napoleon of Crime,” Professor James Moriarty, who was played by Orson Welles.

Robert Powell, 1974

A youthful Robert Powell (Jesus of Nazareth, The Detectives, Holby City) helped to modernise the portrayal of the world's first consulting detective in an adaptation of the first novel 'A Study in Scarlet', which was broadcast on Christmas Day 1974. “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive!” was Holmes’s first words to Dr Watson (played by Dinsdale Landen), flaunting his powers of deduction.

Nigel Stock, 1977

Where would Holmes be without his trusted friend and companion Dr Watson? Nigel Stock was TV’s Dr Watson to Douglas Wilmer and Peter Cushing in the two celebrated BBC series in the 1960s. Stock took to the radio waves with a reading of 'The Six Napoleons' in 1977. A particularly intriguing story which was used for the inspiration of one of Basil Rathbone’s films, The Pearl of Death in 1944.

Roger Rees & Crawford Logan, 1988

In 1988 Roger Rees & Crawford Logan starred in the most famous Holmes story 'The Hound of The Baskervilles.' With a family curse, a spectral hound and the remote landscape of Dartmoor, this was the perfect story for stalwart Holmes radio dramatist Bert Coules to sink his teeth in to.

Clive Merrison & Michael Williams, 1989-95

The success of Bert Coules's adaptation of 'Hound of the Baskervilles' encouraged the BBC Radio department to undertake the ambitious project of producing all four novels and fifty-six short stories. It was over to Clive Merrison and Michael Williams to take the lead roles in this endeavour. Throughout the six years it took to complete the project, they went on to give performances which, to many, are the definitive incarnations of the renowned sleuth and his dear friend.

Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman, 2010 - Present

OK, so they aren't on the radio, but we couldn't have a list of Holmes & Watson through the ages without the current TV incarnations played by Cumberbatch and Freeman. The modern adaptations bring the legendary crime fighters kicking and screaming into the 21st century.