Second in a series of short tributes to well-known people called Jeremy
With the BBC’s Sherlock on our screens, it’s worth reminding ourselves just how great Jeremy Brett was, both in and out of the role. Brett was a truly fine actor and one of British television’s most recognisable faces, having put his sharp features and that extraordinary voice to devilish use as a variety of dastardly villains in some magnificent cult ITC series like The Protectors, The Baron and The Champions. Indeed, he was rarely off the TV as a character actor from the 1960s onwards.
Naturally, he is best remembered for his exquisite portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in Granada Television’s The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes between 1984 and 1994. To many, he was the definitive Holmes of his era. Certainly, for an ITV programme, it was practically unmissable and the programmes easily stand up as dramas today.
Brett was, of course, one of those British actors – the type who would automatically be linked with what I call the holy trinity of British acting roles: Sherlock, James Bond and Doctor Who.
Brett was indeed considered for the role of Bond in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service after Sean Connery first quit, losing out to George Lazenby, and was up for the part again when he auditioned for Live And Let Die, losing out that time to Roger Moore.
After his success as Sherlock Holmes, Brett frequently topped polls as the actor Doctor Who fans would have liked to play The Doctor should the series return to TV. Of course, Doctor Who did briefly return the year after Brett’s death, with Paul McGann in the role.
Sadly, for the final decade of his life, Brett was a manic depressive, a condition that often affected his work as Holmes. Towards the end, his physical appearance had deteriorated quite startlingly – indeed, he almost looked more suited to the role of the nemesis in the story The Last Vampyre. Yet, considering his astonishingly dark, moody Holmes portrayal, he was always looked immaculate in the part to me. I miss Jeremy Brett very much indeed.