Sherlock Holmes: Thor Bridge adapted by Michael Hardwick

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BBC Radio 7, 7-8 January 2010
Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley were one of the famous double-acts to play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Both of them were members of the BBC Radio Drama Company; after having essayed the roles for the first time in 1952, they acted in a further 72 episodes of Conan Doyle's tales over seventeen years. Most of them were broadcast on the old Light Programme (later BBC Radio 2), or in the Thirty-Minute Theatre slot on the Home Service (Radio 4).
In Hobbs' performance, Holmes came across as someone rather aloof (recalling Basil Bathbone's film characterization in the Universal cycle of the 1930s and 1940s), yet remaining in control of the situation. His sole aim was to solve each case as quickly and efficiently as possible, so as to ensure customer satisfaction. Even when faced with great danger, he sustained his sang-froid, much to Watson's admiration. Watson came across in Shelley's performance as a commonsense personality who believed it was his bounden duty to recount Holmes' exploits to the listeners in as comprehensive a form as possible. Watson was also an admirable foil to Holmes, as the two of them solved their respective cases; unlike Nigel Bruce's old duffer in the Universal films.
Holmes' and Watson's idiosyncratic qualities were clearly evident in 'Thor Bridge,' first broadcast on the Light Programme on New Year's Day 1962. Holmes offered a calming presence, trusting in his mental abilities to see through the web of lies offered by Mr. Neale, who tried his best to cover up his guilt for having killed his wife in a fit of jealousy. Once the case was solved, Holmes' tones appeared almost arrogant, as if he could not quite believe that someone was trying to pull the wool over his eyes. Watson acted as the narrator, setting the scene for the listeners, as well as offering incisive observations where appropriate. Robin Midgeley's production did not contain much action, but it did offer the chance for Hobbs and Shelley to show off their vocal powers. Given their popularity in the roles, this is probably what listeners wanted at that time.