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John Nettles
Ian Hart
Richard E. Grant
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Canadian and World Television Premiere - November 18, 2002 - CBC Television
UK Television Premiere - December 26, 2002 - Boxing Day - BBC ONE
US Television Premiere - January 19, 2003 - PBS - Masterpiece Theatre
Sherlock Holmes – Richard Roxburgh
Dr. John Watson – Ian Hart
Henry Baskerville – Matt Day
Stapleton – Richard E. Grant
Miss Stapleton - Neve McIntosh
Dr. Mortimer – John Nettles
Mrs. Mortimer – Geraldine James
Barrymore – Ron Cook
Mrs. Barrymore – Liza Tarbuck
Inspector Lestrade – Danny Webb
Writer – Allan Cubitt
Director – David Attwood
Visual Effects – Framestore/CFC
Executive Producers –
Greg Brenman & Rebecca Eaton
Producer – Christopher Hall
Cinematography – James Welland
Richard Roxburgh, who played the Duke in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, leads a star-studded cast as Sherlock Holmes opposite Ian Hart as Dr Watson in a major new version of The Hound of the Baskervilles from Tiger Aspect Productions for BBC ONE, it was announced today (Monday 1 April) by Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning.
The film also stars Richard E. Grant (Mycroft Holmes in Case of Evil) as Stapleton, an archaelogist, and John Nettles as the local physician, Mortimer.

Produced by Christopher Hall - who re-unites many of the creative team behind
BBC ONE’s The Lost World - the film is written by Allan Cubitt (whose credits include Prime Suspect and Anna Karenina), and promises to be closer to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original conception of the famous detective and his companion. Holmes and Watson will be portrayed as young and athletic men in their mid-thirties, in contrast to the mature and paternalistic figures of previous versions of the story. The hound itself will, for the first time, be a terrifying beast generated with special effects computer technology.

The ancient legend of the Baskervilles has persisted in the family history for generations. It is Sir Charles’s mysterious death in the grounds of Baskerville Hall that brings Holmes and Watson to the scene of one of their most famous and intriguing cases - the mystery of the legendary hell-hound of Dartmoor.

Ian Hart is best known for his roles as Quirrell in
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as the father in Stephen Frears’ Liam, and as a young revolutionary in Ken Loach’s Land And Freedom. Matt Day plays Sir Henry Baskerville, heir to Sir Charles. Tipped to play other roles are Neve McIntosh as Miss Stapleton; Geraldine James as Mrs. Mortimer; Ron Cook as Barrymore, the butler, with Liza Tarbuck as his wife; and Danny Webb as Inspector Lestrade.

Jane Tranter said: "
Allan Cubitt’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless classic is a chilling thriller for the 21st century and follows in the footsteps of The Lost World last Christmas. It’s for an adult audience and features a genuinely frightening hound using the latest special effects technology. The film is set when it was written in 1901, in a time of great flux and change. London is welcoming in a new age of electric light and the internal combustion engine, whilst the moorland of Dartmoor is like the wild west - bleak, inhospitable and lawless."

The Hound of the Baskervilles
is developed and produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, one of the UK’s leading independent production companies. It re-unites the same animatronics and visual effects teams - Crawley Creatures and Framestore - which were behind BBC ONE’s The Lost World (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventure about an epic search for an undiscovered world inhabited by prehistoric beasts starring Bob Hoskins), as well as Walking With Dinosaurs and Walking With Beasts. The director is David Attwood (Shot Through The Heart for BBC TWO, Andrew Davies’ Moll Flanders for ITV).

The Hound of the Baskervilles, which shot from 8 April for six weeks on location in the Isle of Man, Liverpool and Cumbria, is a Tiger Aspect Production for BBC ONE in association with WGBH and The Isle of Man Film Commission. The executive producers are Greg Brenman (Tiger Aspect), Gareth Neame (the BBC’s Head of Independent Drama Commissioning) and Rebecca Eaton (WGBH).
Interview: Richard Roxburgh discusses his role as Holmes in HOUND and as The Fantom in the upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film with Bill Barnes of the Sydney Passengers.
here for interview.
BBC Press Release
View Behind-the-Scenes clips at the
Official BBC site by clicking
Region 1 DVD Release: January 21, 2003
Matt Day
Geraldine James
I confess to having had high hopes for this particular version of The Hound before it aired; large budget, strong cast, state of the art special effects team, good production company…the lot. It had everything going in its favour. The end result, regardless of how much I wanted to like it or how good it looked, did not live up to my expectations. While the film is undoubtedly a lavish 21st century updating of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic tale, and features an impressive, if somewhat miss-used, cast, it fails to deliver on two major points – Holmes and the Hound.

Blonde Australian actor Richard Roxburgh, sporting a vaguely awkward accent as Holmes, does a competent, if not terribly convincing, job with a script that is bereft of any of the quirkiness or deductive genius one hopes to see in a Holmes performance. Instead he is portrayed as a relatively normal, but smug man-of-action type (he roughs up cabby John Clayton to get the info he needs) who resorts to cocaine to stimulate his thought processes rather than to relieve boredom between cases. On one occasion he is shown shooting up in a railway station lavatory, complete with porcelain pull-chain handle dangling next to his head. Like so many actors portraying Holmes before him, we know Roxburgh is Sherlock Holmes not because of his mannerisms or physical appearance, but rather because people call him Mister Holmes and he lives at 221b Baker Street with a fellow called Watson. Ian Hart gives Watson a strong military bearing, but fails to bring any real warmth to the part. It is also a mostly humorless performance with Hart glowering away at all and sundry for much of the film. There is a strong element of distrust between Holmes and Watson that makes one wonder how and why these two people live together. When Watson comments that Sir Charles may have been tip-toeing before his death, Holmes retorts with “
Don’t be an idiot Watson” before wandering into his room, shooting up with coke, and abruptly closing the bedroom door on Watson’s face. While effort is made to strengthen our belief in the relationship later in the film, it just seems too little and too late as the core relationship at the heart of every Holmes story has been sadly lost. Matt Day as Sir Henry misses the mark and presents something of a crude and vulgar colonial caricature. The Barrymores, Ron Cook and Liza Tarbuck, play their red-herring roles with aplomb, but are given some unexpected, and largely unnecessary, business when Watson finds Barrymore signaling from the window. Of the cast, Richard E. Grant faired the best as Stapleton (here an amateur archeologist). His mostly restrained performance, which later gives way to leering villainy at just the right moment, was quite strong, and in the end has brought me round to the "I'd like to see Grant as Sherlock Holmes" camp. Watching him deliver Mortimer's "I covet your skull" line to the much shorter and blonde Roxburgh seemed patently absurd as the considerably taller Grant is fitted with far more striking features, not to mention frontal development. I seem to recall reading that the producers thought Grant ‘too obvious’ for the part of Holmes, to which I can only say “And that is a bad thing, is it?”

The sometimes CGI and sometimes animatronic hound, which at its worst moments resembles an ill-tempered
Scooby Doo from the recent film of the same name, is uneven at best, perhaps proving that state-of-the-art special effects aren't always the best use of a considerable budget. The beast is huge and comes lumbering out of the fog with all the menace one might expect, but it moves in a blocky sort of manner that screams ‘special effect’ from the go, which unfortunately destroys the atmosphere and tension of the sequence. Someday someone will produce a convincing Hound, be it live animal or special effect, but this one isn’t it.

The plot, while generally faithful in spirit, if not detail, to the original story, does away with many familiar, and expected, scenes and characters. The Sir Hugo flashback, stick deduction sequence, Laura Lyons, and Frankland are all missing in this version, yet Mrs. Mortimer, along with the seance sequence from the
1939 Rathbone Hound are present in this production. The fate of Beryl Stapleton and her brother are also altered here, presumably to create a stronger dramatic climax; whether that intention was achieved or not, you'll have to see for yourself. The production values are wonderful, the costumes striking and the locations authentic-looking from start to finish. The widescreen format is used to full effect here. Never before has the moor looked as atmospheric or menacing in any film version, and the opening, which alternates between shots of testimony at the inquest into Sir Charles’ death and his post-mortem, is a wonderful sequence that sets the gritty tone for the film. Baker Street, represented by Canning Street in Liverpool, is an extraordinary exterior that looks perfect. There is no doubt about it, this is the best looking version of The Hound ever to be made for television, but unfortunately in this case, looks aren’t everything!

In the end, it is a compelling, if somewhat infuriating, film to watch. Not a great Holmes film, and certainly not the greatest version of this story, but it is fascinating television drama. Certainly this has to be the most ambitious production of
The Hound of the Baskervilles to date, however, a Holmes film without a strong Holmes performance just makes the whole exercise seem vaguely pointless and ultimately least to this Holmes film fan!
By Charles Prepolec
Read the Review
(See bottom of page)
See The Hound of the Baskervilles on PBS - January 19th, 2003
Neve McIntosh
Richard Roxburgh