Magazine article The Spectator

Television Sleuth at Work

Magazine article The Spectator

Television Sleuth at Work

Article excerpt

One of my resolutions this year is to make a lot more money. But how? In fact, I've noticed recently, it's very simple: all you have to do is take a popular character with enormous worldwide brand recognition (e. g. , King Arthur, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes) and shamelessly reinvent him for the youth demographic.

So, for example, you dress up Dracula in Abercrombie & Fitch, emphasise the sublimated but not consummated sex angle, throw in a werewolf to complete the platonic love triangle, and suddenly you're Stephenie Meyer selling trillions to pubescents. Or you turn Great Expectations' Pip from a dreary cipher into a smouldering, pouty-lipped, Professor-Brian-Cox-style hunk of Boy Band gorgeousness, complete with Mr-Darcy-style sexy-sexy water scene, and suddenly you've made the most talkedabout drama on Christmas TV. As the meerkats say, simples.

I ought to feel curmudgeonly and cross about this prostitution of our great works of literature, but strangely I don't, for reasons all parents of teenagers or near-teenagers will understand. Once your kids reach a certain age you're grateful for any opportunity that enables you to be graciously permitted to share their airspace for more than a few grudging seconds. A programme like Sherlock (Sunday, BBC1) may be your one chance in an entire week to snuggle next to your unloving boy without being told how lame you are or what a complete loser or how, like, totally poor you are compared with all the other families who took their kids to Barbados this year like any normal family would . . .

But even if Boy wasn't a fan of Sherlock ('He's a psycho genius, Dad') I'm sure I'd still be able to enjoy it quite independently because actually it's tremendous fun.

For some reason I managed to miss the first series entirely, and the more people raved about it, the more determined I grew not to watch it. Occasionally, I'd catch little glimpses of it and be tremendously irritated by the relentless chiaroscuro and the mannered acting and the Mexican stand-offs that seemed to conclude every episode, or so it seemed from my 'This is rubbish. I'm definitely not watching it' perspective.

In fact, though, I now realise it's not rubbish at all. Or at least if it is it's very high quality rubbish. Things I particularly like:

1. Sherlock Holmes's coat. It's a beauty. An update of the one Withnail wore in Withnail & I but much more fitted, in charcoal, with a gorgeous detail on one of the lapels where the buttonhole is picked out in red thread. 2. Benedict Cumberbatch's autistic, psycho genius Holmes. …

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