Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Detective and the Time Lord

Every now and again you find hidden gems whilst trawling the darker reaches of the internet. This week it was Doctor Who: Dark Journey, a Canadian fan made audio adventure produced by AM Audio Media, featuring Doctor Who (of course) and Sherlock Holmes. 

Here's the blurb, courtesy of AM Audio Media's website:

Doctor Who: Dark Journey is an original full cast audio adventure which takes The Doctor on a darker journey than ever. Emotionally shattered after a tragedy The Doctor arrives in London and becomes companion to Sherlock Holmes in an effort to stop Jack the Ripper’s murderous trail of terror. But is there an even greater evil at work in Victorian England? 

The Doctor - Andrew Chalmers
Sherlock Holmes - Roy Miranda
Emily Hudson - Kate Elyse Forrest
Cassandra - Larissa Benfey
Inspector Gull - Rikki Wright
Sergeant Pike - Ben Clifford
Pub Thug -​ Atweh Atweh
Holmes lady friend -​ Adrienne Fish
Reporter 1 - Anthony Anderson 

Production Team:
Director - MA Tamburro
Writer - Andrew Chalmers
Sound Design - Clayton Turner
Music - Traffic Experiment
Original Doctor Who theme - Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire
Logo Design - Midnight Media RD Shaw
Album Cover Art - Vortex Visuals Dave Ladkin
Producer - AM Audio Media
June 2014

Dark Journey is a multi-episode series written, performed and produced in Toronto with a Canadian and international cast and crew featuring the music of Doctor Who fan favourite Traffic Experiment.
With Doctor Who - Dark Journey, AM Audio Media has twisted the ‘Whoniverse’ of Doctor Who in a subtle way, making it a little darker, but without losing the essence of what makes the show as brilliant as it is. Dark Journey tells the story of a new Doctor, on his last life, haunted after a mysterious tragedy but still very much ‘The Doctor’ that fans around the world have enjoyed through his adventures on television, books and audio.
AM Audio Media has emphasized intriguing elements of the show’s mythology and run with them. It’s a version that you would probably never see on TV but can exist, quite happily, as a standalone, alternate version.
Dark Journey has found an audience who like their ‘Who’ a little darker. With this extremely positive fan response AM Audio Media is currently in production of further adventures of The Dark Journey Doctor.

Doctor Who Copyright © BBC. No infringement of that or any other copyright is intended. Doctor Who: Dark Journey is a non-profit, unofficial, fan production.

Ray Miranda (Sherlock Holmes) and Andrew Chalmers (Doctor Who)

Don't be put off by the term 'fan made'. These adventures have a high production value about them (one that matches that of Big Finish), the acting is very good and the storyline flows along very nicely.

I'm not normally a lover of crossover stories but this one had me from the very start. So much so that I can't wait to hear the next series (which is currently in post-production).

Doctor Who: Dark Journey is a five part adventure (running a shade under an hour in total) which you can listen to for free here.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Remembering Peter O'Toole

A year ago today we lost one of the finest actors ever to grace the silver screen, namely Peter O'Toole. Of course Peter is best remembered for playing the part of T.E. Lawrence in David Lean's classic Lawrence of Arabia, a role that catapulted him into the public eye, earning him a Bafta and a Golden Globe award in the process.

In a career that spanned seven decades it is natural to assume that he would have been in something Holmes related at some point or other. Thankfully he was.
In 1976 Peter donned the famous deerstalker hat and Inverness cape in Peter King's theatrical production Dead Eyed Dicks, a three-act play where he played no less than three famous sleuths (Lord Peter Wimsey, Sherlock Holmes and Philip Marlowe).

In 1983 Peter lent his voice to animated adaptations of four Sherlock Holmes stories. These being A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Valley of Fear and The Hound of the Baskervilles (retitled as The Baskerville Curse). 

And finally he got to play the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1997 film Fairytale: A True Story which focused on Conan Doyle and the Cottingley Fairies hoax.

O'Toole as ACD, alongside Harvey Keitel as Harry Houdini

R.I.P. Peter (you are sorely missed). 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

If Only

So, a Sherlock special appears to be in the offing (there's no release date for it yet, but Christmas 2015 seems likely). Even though I hated the last series I know I'll almost certainly end up watching it (completist that I am). However, the photo that accompanied the announcement has definitely caught my attention. Cumberbatch and Freeman seem so at home in their Victorian clothes and their look is very reminiscent of Jeremy Brett and David Burke. The photo however just makes me wish they'd set the show in the Victorian period in the first place.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

500 not out for Requiem

Just a quick note to say that Requiem for Sherlock Holmes notched up 500 sales today (which is an amazing achievement for a self-published book). My heartfelt thanks to anyone who has bought a copy, and if you haven't got yours yet you can follow the link above to help us on our slow push into four figures.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Have a Sherlockian Christmas This Year (Thanks to

Christmas is nearly upon us so perhaps this is a good time for a little bit of self promotion. Here are some gift ideas courtesy of my publisher, Hidden Tiger (be sure to check the bottom of the post for details on a great discount).


Sherlock Holmes returns in five enthralling cases. Written in an authentic style, each tale adds new layers to the legend of the great detective.

The Collection opens with the Novella:

When Holmes' father is arrested for the murder of a servant, Sherlock is called in by his brother Mycroft to prove their father's innocence and clear the family name. Holmes reluctantly agrees to help, but the fractious relationship between father and son makes the case doubly a challenge. Will they be able to put aside age-old hostilities and find the true culprit before the accused has his date with the gallows? After decades of forced absence, Holmes returns to his childhood home, in the process unlocking long-repressed feelings which force him to confront his troubled past and threaten to expose his darkest secrets. 

The Collection also contains four Short Stories:

The descendant of a celebrated explorer calls at Baker Street with a curious tale. The late explorer's coffin, interred in the family mausoleum, has been broken into and Holmes, intrigued by the man's story, believes that there may be more to the incident than first meets the eye.


Holmes pits his wits against a sadistic killer, a man who had evaded the detective's clutches some years previous. When the killings resume, Holmes must identify the murderer and apprehend him before he strikes again.

Holmes and Watson travel to Paris in pursuit of a dangerous foe, but they soon find that a far greater enemy is lying in wait for them, eager for revenge.

Strange unseen forces are in play when Dr. Watson takes up an offer from overseas. The resulting sea journey brings about an encounter that takes him back to the gaslit streets of London and could solve the most fabled of mysteries.

Requiem for Sherlock Holmes is available in Hardback, Paperback and Kindle editions.


Sherlock Holmes takes to the stage in four entertaining playscripts written between 1898 and 1921 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Gillette.
Even though Sherlock Holmes had fallen to his supposed death at the culmination of The Final Problem in December 1893, it proved very difficult to keep the great detective down as this collection of theatrical playscripts proves. As the nineteenth century was nearing its end, Sherlock Holmes made his first official stage appearance and that legendary script is presented here along with three others: 

* Written by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
** Attributed to William Gillette
*** Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Theatrical Sherlock Holmes is available in Hardback, Paperback and various electronic editions.

The first collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works ever published, faithfully reproduced and augmented. 

Originally published in Great Britain in 1890 by the Walter Scott Company, Mysteries and Adventures collected together seven of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's earliest fictional works. Three years later, two international editions were issued and these featured five additional stories. Conan Doyle was not to profit from any of these ventures as, in order to have the stories carried by popular journals of the day, he had signed over all rights to their owners. Prior to their appearance in book form, several had been printed without credit and were not commonly known to be the work of Conan Doyle.

The narratives in Mysteries and Adventures dance confidently across the genres, touching upon colonial life, political upheaval, the supernatural, romance and the furrow he would later plough to great acclaim, crime.

These twelve entertaining tales plot Doyle's development from budding young writer to the great author that he quickly became.

Mysteries and Adventures is available in Hardback, Paperback and various electronic editions. are offering 25% off on any hardback or paperback orders made before the 25th of December. Just use promotional code KTP4 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Always Judge a Book by Its Cover

I'm pleased to announce that the cover design for Requiem for Sherlock Holmes has just been awarded a semi-final place in the 2014 Authorsdb Book Cover Contest. Of course the plaudits should go to the cover's designer, namely my brother, Alan Hayes. My brother and I are ecstatic that our cover has reached this far in the contest, as there were some very strong entries in our catergory.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Sparklers at the Ready

Remember, remember! The fifth of November,
the Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
why the gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot!

Wishing everyone a happy (and safe) bonfire night.
Also, if you are lighting a bonfire, take heed of the sage advice below.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Seeing The Hound in a New Light

Something really nice popped through my letterbox this week. It wasn't a bill, nor a scary brown envelope from the tax office, thankfully it was the Blu-ray version of Hammer Film's 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'.

Perfect Halloween viewing (pumpkins not included)

Released as a dual DVD / Blu-ray combo by Shock Entertainment, the DVD is coded to Region 4 and the Blu-ray to Region B. I can't play the DVD version to compare the quality (as I can only play R2 discs) but the Blu-ray version looks amazing.

I'm used to poor prints with washed out colours when it comes to watching Hammer films (admittedly this is my first Hammer Blu-ray), so it was a real surprise to see how good it looked. In fact, the film transfer was so good I could barely believe that the film I was watching was over fifty years old. The only downside on the release is the lack of extras. There is a nice featurette on Hammer stalwart (and Dr. Watson in the film), Andre Morell, but a 'making of' or a commentary wouldn't have gone amiss.

Now, I can't see any point in writing a review of the film, as we've all seen it by now (and if you haven't, you need to rectify this at once). I for one love the Hammer version, and rate it as the best adaptation of ACD's most famous story (as much as I love Jeremy Brett's Holmes, I have to admit that his Hound falls short when compared to Cushing's 1959 effort).

Cushing, Morell and Lee in fine form and in high definition - what more can you ask for?

The Cushing finger in full effect

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Book Fit For a Queen

This month sees the publication of one of Conan Doyle's lesser known Holmes stories, namely 'How Watson Learned the Trick'. The story has of course found its way into print previously (albeit rarely), but this is the very first time it has been released in its original format: a book measuring as little as 38.5mm by 30mm.
The short piece (a shade over 500 words) was written specifically for its inclusion in Queen Mary's Dolls House.

Queen Mary's Dolls House, is as the name suggests, a dolls
Master craftsmen hard at work
house that was built for (yes, you've guessed it) Queen Mary. However, the doll's house is nothing like one you would find in your local toy shop.

Built over a three year period, and completed in 1924, it stands at a staggering five feet tall and over eight feet wide. With a scale of 1:12 (one inch representing one foot), the House and its contents definitely brings the term 'grandiose' to a whole new level.

The doll's house is now owned by Queen Mary's granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II and it is on permanent display at Windsor Castle. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyen, a greatly respected British architect in his day. Today he is probably best remember for his design for The Cenotaph, which sits in Whitehall, London. Over a thousand people were involved in aspects of the build in some way or another (be they craftsmen, artists or writers) and the end result of their toils was a fully functioning four-storey Palladian Villa, with
forty rooms, complete with electricity, two working lifts,
Queen Mary (1867-1953)
running water (including flushable toilets), a garage with space for
five working cars, including  a 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (donated
by Rolls-Royce) and a wine cellar armed with 200 bottles of Chateau
Lafitte 1875 and five dozen bottles of Veueve Cliquot (not to mention a strongroom which held miniature replicas of the Crown Jewels).
However, as impressive as this all is, it is of course the library that
attracts the Sherlockian in me.

The greatest authors of the day were asked to asked to contribute to the project and those that obliged included Conan Doyle, M.R. James,
Thomas Hardy, A.A. Milne, Rudyard Kipling,
W. Somerset Maugham and J.M. Barrie (George Bernard Shaw famously rebuffed the invitation).

If you haven't read the story before, it is well worth a view (although you might have to borrow Holmes' magnifying glass to read this version). 

'How Watson Learned the Trick' is published by Walker Books and can be purchased via their website or on Amazon.

Every library should have a Sherlock Holmes book (even a tiny one)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Miraculous Find, Watson

Startling news! A print of the 1916 film, 'Sherlock Holmes', considered lost for close to a hundred years has recently surfaced in France.
The print was discovered in the archives of the French Cinémathèque and is currently in the process of being restored.

The film, which was produced by Essanay Studios starred the legendary Sherlock Holmes actor William Gillette in the title role and was an adaptation of his earlier stage-play 'Sherlock Holmes: A Drama in Four Acts'. Gillette was 'Sherlock Holmes' to a entire generation, but barring a handful of photographs, little of his work survived - until now.

Two premieres have been scheduled for the restored print. The first being at Cinémathèque Française's Festival of Film Restoration in January 2015, whilst the American premiere will take place at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in May 2015. Barring a lucky few, we lesser mortals will have to wait for its eventual release on DVD or Blu-ray, which will undoubtedly occur some time afterwards. I know the summer of 2015 seems an age away for something that we are all dying to see, but having waited for 98 years another year won't harm us.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sherlock Through the Looking Glass

Recently I came into contact with a fellow Sherlockian on Twitter. Nothing unusual in that I hear you say, but there's one unique thing about him - he composes prog rock songs based on Arthur Conan Doyle's famous stories.

Looking-Glass Lantern is the brainchild of the multi-talented Graham Dunnington, a classically trained musician with a passion for both Holmes and progressive rock. Being the sole member of the band he can be found playing a mixture of keyboards, guitar and drums (as well as the vocals).

You wouldn't think that prog rock and ACD's famous sleuth would mix, but Graham's album, 'A Tapestry of Tales' definitely proves that they can. Now, I don’t consider myself a prog rock fan by any means (barring some early Genesis albums I know nothing of the genre), but I absolutely love the songs and bought the album after previewing just over a minute of the first track. I’d recommend it to anyone who cares to listen to me and I can’t wait to hear the follow up (The Hound of the Baskervilles, due to be released next month). It doesn’t matter if you’re a prog-rock fan or not – they are just great pieces of music which deserve to be heard.

Check out Looking-Glass Lantern's website for more info.

 'Six Pearls to Mary', taken from the album 'A Tapestry of Tales'.

'A Tapestry of Tales', taken from the album of the same name.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Remembering Jeremy Brett

This day, 19 years ago we lost possibly the finest actor ever to take on the role of Sherlock Holmes - Jeremy Brett. To my mind he was the ultimate Sherlock Holmes. I do not think any other actor has got close to his portrayal of the great detective (although I do have a soft spot for Peter Cushing's Holmes). Whenever I write a Holmes story it is always Jeremy Brett that I see in my mind's eye, acting out my words.
R.I.P. Jeremy.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Putting My Eggs in One Basket

Just a quick note to say that the digital versions of Requiem for Sherlock Holmes are going to be taken down from the Kobo, Nook & iBookstore sites very shortly (if they haven't already gone) and it'll be exclusively available at Amazon over the next few days. By doing this I'll be able to do things like run countdown deals, and if you're with Amazon Prime you will be able to read the book for free (via Kindle Unlimited). Good times ahead.

Friday, 29 August 2014

The Difficult Second Book (An Update)

Firstly, my apologies for the long period of inactivity on this blog recently. What with the kids being off school for the summer I haven't had much time to update the blog and without noticing it months have passed by. Now that the new term is imminent I hopefully will be able to post here more often.

Another thing that has unfortunately suffered over the summer months has been my writing. I haven't much chance to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) over the past two months, but, all things being equal I should have the first draft of a new Holmes novella in the bag over the next few weeks. Then the fun of editing begins.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

A Trilogy of Hounds

To while away a few hours this week I thought I'd catch up on some Holmes adaptations that I have missed over the years for some reason or another. I thought it would be interesting to concentrate on one story in particular, and chose adaptations of Conan Doyle's finest Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Here are my thoughts on what I watched.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (BBC TV - 2002)
Starring Richard Roxburgh as Sherlock Holmes and Ian Hart as Doctor Watson.

Although it took me quite some time to warm to Roxburgh's portrayal of Holmes I ended up really enjoying this adaptation. It was first transmitted on the 26th of December 2002, and due to the fact I was spending the Christmas period at my in-law's house in Ireland I was forced to miss it (this was many years before Sky+ came to the Hayes household).
While Roxburgh and Hart did not set the world on fire with their performances they were aided by a very strong supporting cast, which included John Nettles as Doctor Mortimer and the excellent Richard E. Grant as Stapleton (not to mention a very convincing hound).
The story differed from that of the original novel on numerous occasions. Laura Lyons, an important figure in the book, is omitted completely. But the biggest difference is the manner of Stapleton's comeuppance and what happened to his wife. I can see how some people would be annoyed at these changes, but in a story that we all know inside out it is good to get a surprise or two every now and again.
All in all it was a very good adaptation. It's just a shame it took me nearly twelve years to get round to watching it.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978 film)
Starring Peter Cook as Sherlock Holmes and Dudley Moore as Doctor Watson.

I'm a big fan of Pete & Dud but have given this film a miss until now due to the poor reviews it has garnered over the years (the bad feeling towards it has on occasion earned it the tag 'The worst Sherlock Holmes film ever made'). Having now watched it, I just wish I had heeded their warnings and left it well alone. On paper this should have been a great film, but it sadly lacks Cook & Moore's distinct brand of humour and it quickly degenerates into nothing more than a poor copy of the Carry On films. The lowest point of the film to my eye was the 'One Leg Too Few' sketch, a well known piece shamelessly lifted from Pete & Dud's TV show 'Not Only, But Also'. While it was probably the highlight of the film comedy-wise, it was no match for the original and it showed how badly they lacked ideas.
One to be avoided. Caution: watch at your peril.
If you want to see Pete & Dud as Holmes and Watson in a less painful form, try their sketches from ITV's 1968 series 'Goodbye Again' instead (if only the film matched these sketches).

The Hound of the Baskervilles (Hallmark - 2000)
Starring Matt Frewer as Sherlock Holmes and Kenneth Welsh as Doctor Watson.

I must admit this adaptation was also one that I was warned about. Matt Frewer's interpretation of Holmes has led to a lot of criticism over the years but seeing as the DVD was only £1.69 at Amazon I had to see for myself. Although Frewer tries his best at an English accent, he still seemed to be in Max Headroom mode with the pitch of his voice rising and falling for no apparent reason (thankfully his inflection is tempered in subsequent films). As Much as I like Frewer ('Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future' is a must watch) I was glad that Holmes is absent for a lengthy period in this story (actually longer than usual) and we are left in the capable hands of Kenneth Welsh as Watson. I was very impressed with Welsh's performance. A strong Watson, who is up there with David Burke and Edward Hardwicke in my opinion.
I cannot say I was enamoured with any of the supporting cast (barring Arthur Holden as Barrymore) and the less said about the hound the better.
Definitely one for completists only - there are better versions out there.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

It Was Thirty Years Ago Today: Granada's Sherlock Holmes

Today marks the thirtieth anniversary of the first airing of the Granada series 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' (as seen in this cutting from TV Times dated 24th April 1984). For people of a certain age (myself included) the Granada series is one that just cannot be bettered.
The money spent on the production has ensured that it has aged well where other adaptations (Tom Baker's 'Hound of the Baskervilles' for one) can seem a bit stilted nowadays. The attention to detail and its faithfulness to the original stories (take note Moffat) have earned it the high standing that it so richly deserves.
It is however the casting that fascinates me the most. I do not think I have ever seen a programme where an ensemble has fitted together so perfectly. For me Jeremy Brett is the epitome of Sherlock Holmes, with his interpretation of the great detective masterful. As much as I try to fight it, whenever I write Sherlock Holmes stories it is always Jeremy Brett that I envision in my mind's eye.

Both David Burke and Edward Hardwicke have a special place in my heart and even after all these years I am torn as to which one I prefer. Whilst their Watson's are different they both gave the part a realness that was sadly lacking in previous adaptations. Modern Watson's owe a great debt to these two. Without them, the rounded character that they now enjoy could be vastly different.

Next we come to my absolute favourite, Colin Jeavons as Inspector Lestrade. People can argue (and they frequently do) about their favourite Holmes, but there can be little doubt that Jeavons' take on Lestrade is faultless. He played the part perfectly, giving the Inspector a real character to him, one that was seldom seen outside of the original stories.

Mycroft is a difficult one. At first glance Charles Gray appears to be too old to be playing Holmes' elder brother, but in truth he was only five years older than Jeremy Brett. A veteran of the silver screen (from Blofeld in 'Diamonds are Forever' to my favourite Hammer Horror film 'The Devil Rides Out'), Gray leant his wealth of experience to the role, and embodied the character for a whole generation.

Sadly, out of all these great actors only David Burke and Colin Jeavons are still with us. Thankfully we can pop a disc into our DVD player (or Blu-ray) whenever the whim takes us and enjoy them at their very best. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Discovering The Silent Greats: Eille Norwood

I seem to be in the mood for watching silent cinema of late. I started off earlier this week with the excellent 1920 film 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari'. This got me thinking that I really should take the time to delve into the Sherlock Holmes films from this era. I'm a big fan of silent cinema, but it's usually the likes of Laurel & Hardy, Harold Lloyd & Buster Keaton that I am often drawn to. Fortunately I already had my introduction to the genre waiting on the shelf in the form of 'Sherlock Holmes: The Archive Collection', a DVD that I had ordered a couple of months ago and hadn't got round to watching yet. Two nights ago I saw my first Eille Norwood film and was instantly blown away by it.

Norwood appeared in 47 adaptations of Conan Doyle's stories between 1921 and 1923 (45 short films and 2 feature films), a feat unmatched by subsequent movie actors playing Holmes. As with other early Holmes films, he is hampered by a woefully miscast Watson (in this case, Hubert Willis), but even with this disadvantage his brilliant performance shone through. With the majority of these films still in existence it is surprising that they haven't been released commercially (only 'The Man with the Twisted Lip', 'The Dying Detective' and 'The Devil's Foot' have managed to make their way on to DVD so far). Hopefully the recent upsurge in popularity for the great detective will convince someone that the time is right to release them.

Sherlock Holmes meets his maker (Norwood and Doyle during the early 1920s).