Jeremy Brett vs David Suchet and why Olivier expected the body of a god and the voice with an orchestra at its disposal.

Netflix is fine but youtube has film noir. And Netflix doesn’t carry the much loved Granada series starring Jeremy Brett playing Sherlock Holmes. This series from the 80’s has so many fans, still, we have podcasts today, devoted to the detail, the actors and above all; Jeremy Brett. It’s classic, old fashioned and Brett’s intense portrayal captivates the viewer. When Brett was asked about Holmes, he said it was like playing Shakespeare, he said there had to be something extra special. He was schooled by Olivier at the National Theater Company who insisted his actors “have the body of a god and the voice of an orchestra at their disposal”.

No one doubts he applied everything he had to Holmes and don’t we know it. We remain devoted to him and the series.

David Suchet’s portrayal of Poirot is popular too, so it does beg the queston; who’s better at telling the detective story? Christie or Doyle.

Agatha Christie sits at no. 2, right behind Shakespeare; I should have known. I distinctly recall precious hours spent reading her mysteries. My parents bought me a set of her stories, in hard cover, occupying an entire shelf in our library. They were thin black treasures with an elegant red stripe to the right, and the title in red on the spine. I was only 10 but it made me feel like an adult. Agatha got my attention first, then along came Sherlock, then came Jeremy, followed by Suchet’s Poirot. Yet there’s something extra special about Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of the sleuth.

Agatha Christie focuses on ‘who is the murderer’ while Conan Doyle emphasises ‘how Sherlock finds the murderer’ based on science, logic and technology. The Granada series insisted upon focusing on detail. They composed a 77 page ‘Baker Street File’ that Jeremy Brett studied in between scenes covering every aspect of the life and times of Sherlock Holmes. But it was Brett’s concentration, his passion that takes us to another level. It didn’t hurt he was that handsome. Jeremy talked of ‘becoming’ Holmes and how difficult that was, because Holmes could appear hollowed out, too harsh, too analytical. But Jeremy filled the character with a body of a god and a voice with an orchestra at his disposal.

There’s plenty of podcasts devoted to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes but the Granada series lives on for millions of devoted followers, like me.

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