Magazine article The Spectator

Television: Sherlock

Magazine article The Spectator

Television: Sherlock

Article excerpt

One of the few intelligent responses from the liberal-left to our radically altered political landscape was an essay published last year in the impeccably right-on Vox . It began: 'There is a smug style in American liberalism ...It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence -- not really -- but by the failure of half the country to know what's good for them.'

You could apply very much the same argument to Britain and, as evidence, you could cite the first episode in the new series of Sherlock . (Shitlock as I prefer to call it, in the interests of accuracy.) I refer you to exhibit A -- a scene in which Sherlock comes to investigate the very mysterious death of a youth whose body has been found in a burned-out car in his parents' drive on the day when he Skyped them from the Himalayas.

The parents live in a large country house not unlike the one you could afford many times over if you were, say, one of Shitlock 's stars -- Benedict Cumberbatch or Martin Freeman, or its screenwriter Mark Gatiss or its co-creator Steven Moffat. But that's not about to prevent Team Shitlock having a sly sneer at the victim's privilege: not only is the son called Charlie and apparently on his gap yah, but his Dad is a Tory MP and, worse, keeps a bust of Margaret Thatcher in his drawing room.

That's why we're scarcely supposed to bat an eyelid when Sherlock is unaccountably rude to the grieving parents. When asking them about their collection of Thatcher memorabilia, he makes a great show of not knowing who Margaret Thatcher is. Except he clearly does because he signals his disdain by muttering under his breath 'By the pricking of my thumbs...', leaving the enlightened viewer to fill in the rest '...Something wicked this way comes.'

Sherlock Holmes loathes Margaret Thatcher. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Holmes is arrogant, cerebral, solipsistic, antisocial, clearly on the autistic spectrum and hitherto apolitical, so of course it's not at all a random and inexplicable imposition on his character as established thus far to make him a Maggie hater...

No, not really. That particular detail makes no sense in terms of character or plotting, only in the context of that 'smug style' I mentioned at the beginning. Holmes -- as interpreted by the Old Harrovian virtue-signaller Cumberbatch -- disses Thatcher for the same reason comedians do on Radio 4 and the same reason someone like Will Self probably would on Question Time : to give the audience that warm glow of satisfaction which comes from knowing that you share the right values and that people who don't share the right values are thoroughly disgusting and like to eat Richmond sausages with HP Sauce. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.