Biographic by Steve McGarry for December 20, 2009
Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant detective created at the end of the 19th century by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of the most enduring fictional characters of all time. Conan Doyle wrote four novels and 56 short stories featuring Holmes, the majority of which are narrated by his friend and assistant, Dr. John Watson. The stories inspired stage productions and were more recently adapted for radio, film and television, as well as comic books and board games. Sherlock Holmes has provided the blueprint for fictional detectives of every stripe. The lead character on the hit TV series "House" was based on Holmes, according to the show's creator, David Shore. House even lived at 221B, the number of Sherlock's Baker Street abode. Holmes is the most frequently filmed fictional character with well over 200 versions to date. Following a number of Scandinavian and U.K. shorts in cinema's early silent days, the likes of John Barrymore and Raymond Massey portrayed the great detective on screen. The definitive Holmes was created by Basil Rathbone in numerous films and radio broadcasts from 1939 onward. Actors who have played Sherlock Holmes on film include Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Peter O'Toole, Roger Moore and Charlton Heston. In the 1980s, and '90s tv audiences were enthralled by Jeremy Brett's portrayal, other productions have ranged from a soviet TV series and Japanese animation of the schoolboy hero of the 1985 movie "Young Sherlock Holmes" the character has also been spotted by the likes of John Cleese and Michael Caine. The latest incarnation sees Robert Downey Jr. as the supersleuth, alongside Jude Law as Dr. Watson, in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. Upcoming takes on the tales include a TV series featuring Martin Freeman, of the original BBC version of "The Office" as Watson and there's a comedy movie in the works that will see Sacha Baron Cohen, alias borat and bruno put on the deerstalker.