I’m just catching up with a few things after a weekend away, and one of the things I was keeping half an eye on was the Sherlock convention in London. Usually during these things some announcements are made, and, right on cue, the BBC announced some episode titles for the upcoming fourth series. Not enormo news, granted, but episode titles do have a habit of letting us know what the stories might be.
The Six Thatchers and The Lying Detective. Two intriguing titles, which the internet then got quickly to work in trying to decipher them.
As fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories will immediately realise, episode one is a nod to The Adventure of the Six Napoleans, while the next instalment refers to The Adventure of the Dying Detective.
The 49-year-old British actor’s online CV has now been updated to confirm that he will be playing Culverton Smith in the episode.
The character originally appeared in ‘The Adventure of the Dying Detective’, a short story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1913.
The Radio Times referenced Cultbox, which found out that Toby Jones, who’s slated to appear in series four, will be playing a character called Culverton Smith.
We wrote last month: “What a crafty bastard Culverton Smith, who appeared in ‘The Dying Detective’, is. Described as ‘small, frail, twisted’, but with ‘a double chin…high bald head…and menacing grey eyes’ he sounds like the sort of character that Jones – who trained in physical theatre at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq – could play very well (along with plenty of well-applied make-up, of course!).
Culverton’s a slimy amateur with enough knowledge of deadly tropical diseases to use one to kill his nephew. He later attempts to kill Holmes with an infected spring-loaded device concealed in an ivory box. Holmes feigns illness in a bit to lure a confession from the murderer, resulting in a great exchange between the two.
The same Radio Times then goes onto speculate whether The Six Thatchers refers to a cse that Holmes and Watson has already solved:
And based on John’s description, The Six Thatchers sounds very similar indeed to The Six Napoleans…
The Conan Doyle adventure concerns a mysterious series of burglaries that each culminate in the theft and destruction of an identical plaster bust of Napolean – and once in murder. It eventually transpires that the thief had hidden a valuable black pearl inside one of them and was attempting to track it down again.
In the case described in John’s blog, the Napoleans become busts of Margaret Thatcher, and the item hidden inside one of them is the penknife used in the murder but the basic premise is the same. So is the culprit – in both, he’s an Italian named Beppo.
So, could this really be the plot to The Six Thatchers we’re going to see on screen?
But what about the three words teased by Gatiss, Amanda Abbingdon and Benedict Cumberbatch at San Diego’s ComicCon back in July? Thatcher. Smith. Sherinford.
Thatcher still remains a mystery (I’m aware of the double meaning of that phrase), but Smith, we might suggest means Culverton Smith, and Sherrinford? Here’s the Radio Times again:
A less usual name to bring up is Sherrinford, which also has a long history in the literary world of Sherlock Holmes – though not directly in Doyle’s novels. Originally considered as a name for Doyle’s detective before he settled on Sherlock, Sherrinford was later taken up by Sherlock scholar William Stuart Baring-Gould to be used in a fictional Sherlock Holmes biography.
In the book, “Sherrinford Holmes” became the eldest brother of Sherlock and Mycroft, who was left behind to run the family estate while the other Holmes men went into crime-solving and government work respectively (solving a plot hole from the books of why neither Mycroft or Holmes looked after the family pile).
Now, in the modern series we’ve only met two Holmes brothers, but in the last episode of series 3, Mycroft hinted that there might have been another, saying “I’m not given to outbursts of brotherly compassion. You know what happened to the other one.”
So plenty of food for thought. More news as we get it…
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