This week, we’re beginning a new series on OTR Wednesday…The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!
In 1939, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce appeared in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the first of an eventual fourteen film series. After the second film for 20th century Fox, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Universal acquired the rights in 1942. Unlike the first two films, that were set in the Victorian era, all of the 12 Universal films were set in modern times. the series ended in the summer of 1946 after Rathbone reportedly grew tired of the role.
Rathbone and Bruce simultaneously played Holmes and Watson on the radio in The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes during the same time period of 1939 to 1946. Both starred in a total of 218 episodes together until Rathbone left the role in May 1946 weeks before the final film debuted in theaters. Bruce returned for one more season opposite Tom Conway, who was rumored to have been Universal’s pick for the theatrical replacement as well but that never transpired. After a full season run of 39, Bruce and Conway both departed the program in July 1947.
While some of the early episodes from the Rathbone era still exist, unfortunately, many have been lost. Our first episode, The Bruce-Partington Plans, is actually the sixth from the first season and originally aired on November 6, 1939. So, put another log on the fire, grab your smoking jacket, a glass of wine and settle in as the game’s afoot!