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At 127, Sherlock Holmes Is Still Popular

Cast Of Coronado Playhouse Production Discuss Holmes’ Longevity

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with the director and cast of Coronado Playhouse's "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure" to find out what makes the great detective so popular after 127 years.


Have you been SHERLOCKED? If so don’t be embarrassed, you’re not alone. The famous detective from Baker Street is making audiences swoon thanks in large part to the new BBC series, "Sherlock."

"I am a high-functioning sociopath," Sherlock likes to brag in the series. And Benedict Cumberbatch has turned Holmes into a sex symbol and pop culture superstar 127 years after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created him in print. Meanwhile, on this side of the Pond, CBS has done a gender swap, updating the Holmes stories as the TV series "Elementary" in which Holmes’ sidekick Dr. John Watson has been transformed into woman, Dr. Joan Watson played by Lucy Liu.

Photo caption: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson in the BBC "Sher...

Photo credit: BBC/CBS

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson in the BBC "Sherlock." And Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller as Watson and Holmes in CBS' "Elementary."

Companion Viewing

BBC "Sherlock" with Benedict Cumberbatch

Granada TV's "Sherlock Holmes" with Jeremy Brett

20th Century Fox's "Sherlock Holmes" film series with Basil Rathbone

Sherlock Holmes spawned the first recorded sequel in movie history back in 1908 and more than a hundred actors have taken on the role of the great detective. So why do we keep coming back to him?

"Obviously he’s a timeless character," said Charles Peters, the actor currently playing Holmes at the Coronado Playhouse.

"There is that thing of black and white, right and wrong, and the idea that he solves the crimes, the mysteries of life with his mind," he said. "It’s an intellectual choice for him… I think that’s part of the appeal. The discipline of his mind, he’s single-minded, he has very obsessive behaviors, which we all have, and he’s an outsider, and I think a lot of us can relate to that as well," Peters said.

Neil McDonald plays Moriarty, Holmes’ infamous nemesis in the same production.

"I read somewhere that every generation throws up its own Sherlock. Almost in the same way that people talk about Hamlet. That’s what seems to happen. Sherlock just never goes away. Sherlock feels so very modern," McDonald said.

Devi Noel says Holmes’ appeal comes in part from his mysterious nature. She should know, she plays Irene Adler, Holmes’ only true love.

"He always figures things out, never out of control and no matter what is thrown at him he will find his way to the end of it," Noel said, "And I think people like that and there is no one else like him."

McDonald says the pleasure of Sir Arthur’s stories lies not in the mysteries but rather "In the amazing deductions that Holmes makes and then he unravels his procedure for you and yes it is so self-evident that we should have got that."

Holmes: Elementary.

Watson: If only I could see what you see.

Holmes: Oh you see but you do not observe! That is quite clear.

People quite enjoy that Holmes is a bit of a cad.

"In the sense that he’s rude and dismissive and he has very odd eccentric habits," Peters said. "He’s not a regular person, he’s not a very lovable character when you look at him from the outside."

Director Nick Reeves agrees that Holmes has an attractive bad boy image, but there’s something else at work in the stories.

"I think the relationship between Watson and Holmes is something that really draws people. It’s a relationship that is based not only on mutual respect but a very deep love between two men and that relationship is so strong that it draws you through the stories as well as Holmes himself," Reeves explained.

In "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure," Sven Salumaa plays Watson to Peters' Holmes.

"Men enjoy people like Holmes and women enjoy people like Holmes. So it’s kind of like a James Bond character. You can like him on so many different levels yet he’s an outsider," Salumaa said.

If you’ve watched the BBC Sherlock or CBS’ Elementary, then you will find something different at the Coronado Playhouse.

"What is a little bit different in this," Reeves said, "is we’ve gone back in some ways to the original stories, and for Sherlock Holmes, we also went back to the original material, we are spinning it as a little bit more Bohemian and as someone who is definitely the scientific but also someone who marches to his own tune, who has this brilliant mind and is very excitable, very emotional, and yet can hone in and be able to solve the problem and issue at hand."

The game's afoot at the Coronado Playhouse with "Sherlock The Final Adventure." The play runs through May 18.

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