The Complete Sherlock Holmes is a radio drama series broadcast by BBC 4 from 1989-1998, starring Clive Merrison as Sherlock Holmes and Michael Williams as Doctor John Watson. It is based on the short stories and novels of Arthur Conan Doyle, and was the first time the entire canon of four novels and 56 short stories were dramatized featuring the same lead actors.
In 1989, the BBC commissioned Bert Coules to adapt several of Conan Doyle's novels for radio. The broadcasts proved to be popular, and the BBC then commissioned, to Coules' surprise, a project that would dramatize for radio every story and novel in the Holmes canon. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes debuted in 1991, under the helm of producers Enyd Williams and Patrick Rayner, with Coules as head writer. Coules was responsible for adapting about half of the short stories and all of the novels.
- Sherlock Holmes - Clive Merrison
- Doctor John Watson - Michael Williams
- Giles Lestrade - Stephen Thorne, Donald Gee
- Mycroft Holmes - John Hartley
- Mrs. Hudson - Joan Matheson, Anna Cropper, Mary Allen, Judi Dench
- Announcer - Peter Donaldson
Guest stars include:
- Brian Blessed
- George Cole
- Peter Davison
- Judi Dench
- Desmond Llewelyn
- Joan Sims
- Peter Sallis
- Donald Sinden
and many others.
The series, which completed in 1998, proved extremely popular, and The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was commissioned by the BBC, with Bert Coules writing new, original Holmes stories, in part based on references in Conan Doyle's works to other adventures, occurring "off-stage," to Holmes and Watson. Clive Merrison reprised his role as Holmes, but Michael Williams, having passed away, was replaced with Andrew Sachs as John Watson.
The complete series has been released on CD and cassette, as individual titles correlating to the original novels and story collections, and as a comprehensive boxed set.
A monograph recalling the history and production of Sherlock Holmes stories on the BBC was commissioned and published by a UK-based Sherlock Holmes society, The Northern Musgraves. Entitled 221 BBC, the book is written by Bert Coules and includes an overview of the many permutations of Conan Doyle's characters that have been produced by the BBC, with a particular focus on the Merrison/Williams series.