Brett played Watson opposite Charlton Heston’s Holmes in a 1980 stage production of The Crucifer of Blood, but he graduated to the top-billed role in a series of Granada Television small-screen features. In 41 made-for-TV movies between 1984 and 1994, he became the definitive Holmes of his era. He threw himself into the role with Method thoroughness, inventing for himself a lengthy backstory of Holmes’ upbringing that explained the adult sleuth’s foibles and emotional remoteness. He gave Holmes a distinctive set of gestures and even laughs.
His is an aggressively physical Holmes, literally hurling himself into his detective work and undertaking dangerous stunts (even though Brett was already 51 when he started playing Holmes and had a history of heart trouble). He’s also moody, alternating from bleak despair to gleeful enthusiasm. His personality was so forceful that, partway through the series, his Watson (David Burke) was replaced (by Edward Hardwicke) without anyone seeming to notice.
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