The Judgement Of Sherlock Holmes by Jonathan Barnes (CD review).

The return of our hero is long overdue and ‘The Judgment Of Sherlock Holmes’ reunites the team of writer Jonathan Barnes and the dynamic duo of Nicholas Briggs and Richard Earl as the best Holmes and Watson you could hope to hear. In a four part adventure we cross continents and scroll down decades to hear the often tragic tale of the rise of the mysterious Society.


Commencing in 1921, the pair are reunited in their twilight years as something grave is afoot in the country and there is no time to lose. Nevertheless, we are to hear the story of the events of the years following Holmes’ apparent death at Reichenbach Falls when John Watson believes him to be lost forever.

Watson is at least happy married to Mary (forthrightly portrayed by Gemma Whelan). He often dwells on the nature of Holmes’ demise and is drawn to their old lodgings to ponder on their friendship. He spends so much time there that Mary loses patience with him when he fails to return home on time from his practise. Watson’s return to working as a GP means he encounters some strange people but no one odder than the Reverend Samuel Griffiths (Nicholas Chambers) who has a wandering Welsh accent and tells of mysterious poison pen letters that talk of a ‘flood’. Griffiths demands that Watson solves this problem but without Holmes, Watson is lost.

Far away in Switzerland, Holmes is aware that Sebastian Moran, second-in-command to the late Professor Moriaty, still has him in his sights. Holmes resolves to turn the tables on Moran to ensure his own ‘death’ remains a fact.

With our duo split, they have to take companions where they may. Watson links up with Inspector Lestrade (John Banks). Given a sympathetic portrayal here, Lestrade is not unknowledgeable and adopts some of Holmes’ methods. Holmes is more of a loner but he too comes across some interesting characters such as the owner of the guest house in far flung Nepal, Mrs Eidelmann (Jemma Churchill) and the equally gnomic Dorje (Dai Tabuchi).

This and the introduction of Mycroft Holmes as a substantial character (played by the marvellous Tim Bentinck) means we have a plan. John Banks is multi-tasking, both as the superb Lestrade and also the villainous and no doubt moustache twirling Sebastian Moran. They sound completely different and I bow to his talent. Jemma Churchill as Mrs Eidelmann is understated and subtle and Dai Tabuchi is intriguing as the enigmatic Dorje. It goes almost without saying that I absolutely am a little bit in love with the all too human John Watson who has to shoulder the worst of burdens in this series. Richard Earl is simply fantastic and pours out emotion in his portrayal of the bereaved Doctor and is driven to desperate measures by love. Nicholas Briggs also relishes this role as Sherlock Holmes and he is given some fantastic speeches by Barnes.

The four episodes of ‘The Judgement Of Sherlock Holmes’ are indeed both emotional and exciting. There is much to enjoy within the boxed (or not if you buy digitally) set. Additional features are, of course, the interviews with cast and crew which round out the experience. This iteration of Sherlock and the sensitively created character of Doctor Watson are just so much fun always leaving the listener waiting for the next instalment. Jonathan Barnes continues to wind his own interest threads into the established characters and also uses some of the plot points from the original stories to good effect. This is rapidly turning into appointment audio with this release eagerly awaited by fans and hopefully new listeners. If you haven’t jumped yet then you really should.

Sue Davies

December 2014

(pub: Big Finish. 4 CDs 240 minute story. Price: CD: £30.00 (UK), Download: £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-427-3)

cast: Nicholas Briggs, Richard Earl, John Banks, Tim Bentinck, Gemma Whelan, Jemma Churchill, Terrence Hardiman, Nicholas Chambers, Joannah Tincey, Dai Tabuchi and David Killick

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