Shoscombe Old Place (TV episode 1991)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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Shoscombe Old Place

Shoscombe Old Place (episode No. 29) is the 3rd episode of season 5 of the Granada series: Sherlock Holmes (The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes), starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and Edward Hardwicke as Dr. Watson, aired on ITV on 7 march 1991. 51 min.

The episode is an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story : The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (1927).

The Mystery of Shoscombe, Sherlock Holmes' latest adventure written by Arthur Conan Doyle, is based on the macabre trickery planned by Sir Robert, an aristocrat in debt, to escape ruin. Gary Hopkins, the scriptwriter, has worked hard to restore the suspense that the news compromised through premature revelations. In the adaptation, Holmes no longer tells Watson as soon as they arrive at the Green Dragon that Lady Beatrice is probably dead and that an accomplice of her brother Robert must play his part. It is no longer the impostor who, in a male voice, orders the coachman to leave again, thus betraying the trickery, but the cameraman, and it is Holmes who reveals the truth by a spectacular coup de theatre: lifting the headdress and wig of the supposed old lady, he makes the face of a teenager appear. In addition, Gary Hopkins complicates the story by leading the audience in the wrong direction where Watson will go astray: the murder of usurer Samuel Brewer by Sir Robert. The latter, ceasing to be a bully in the film to become an impulsive, sensitive and tenderly attached to his sister Beatrice, arouses more interest. The horror of the story is treated with tact and efficiency. No ugly image of the dead person shocks the viewer, but the visit of Sandy Bain and Jaspers to the ruined chapel, where strange and heart-rending tears seem to come out of the gargoyles' grimaceous mouths, creates a captivating fantastic atmosphere. And the omnipresent humour completes this originally gloomy adventure. The warning addressed by the innkeeper to Holmes and Watson against the harsh welcome that Sir Robert might give them or the dialogue between old butler Stephens and Watson, commissioned by Holmes to divert the servants' attention, are particularly delicious pieces. In this episode, it is not disrespectful to say that the adaptation has perfected the original.




Plot summary (spoiler)

John Mason, Sir Robert Norberton's coach, tells Holmes of his concerns. Robert, whom only a victory of his horse Prince could save from ruin, once lived in perfect harmony with his sister Lady Beatrice in the Shoscombe estate of which she has the usufruct. But from now on, the old lady lives in a recluse and her brother, who deprived her of her dear spaniel Jaspers by entrusting him to the boss of the Green Dragon, nightly visits the abandoned chapel. According to Holmes, an affair between Robert and Beatrice's maid, Carrie Evans, may have caused discord in her siblings. But the discovery of a human bone in the boiler and the disappearance of Brewer, Robert's hated creditor, prompted Mason to suspect murder. Holmes is therefore investigating on the spot. At the time of Lady Beatrice's brief daily outing, he headed for Shoscombe Hall with Watson and Jaspers. When the car appeared, Watson stopped him and Jaspers ran towards his mistress, but Carrie shouted at the driver to leave. Robert absent, Holmes inspects his sister's room, takes hair from her brush, then drags Watson into the crypt where the jockey Bain heard strange moans and discovers... Beatrice's remains! Back at the mansion, he removed the veil of the so-called Lady, revealing Joe Barnes' dismayed face. Sir Robert had concealed the death of his sister, a cardiac sister, to prevent his creditors from seizing Prince, dressed his young servant in a wig and women's clothing and dismissed Jaspers, who was likely to betray the body's hiding place. The burnt bones did not come from Brewer, but from the empty coffin to place Lady Beatrice there. Holmes will let Prince participate in the Champion Stakes; thanks to his victory, Robert will liquidate his debts and get off to a good start.

  • Credits : Monique Claisse (texts), Sarah Fava (photos), Granada.