Is Rupert Everett the most underrated Sherlock Holmes?


JON REES asks whether Rupert Everett’s performance in The Case of the Silk Stocking should be considered one of the greatest of all Sherlock Holmes

Rupert Everett as Sherlock Holmes in The Case of the Silk Stocking
Rupert Everett as Sherlock Holmes in The Case of the Silk Stocking

Ask people who their favourite on screen portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is, and you can expect a few stock answers.
Rathbone or Brett are still the favourites. Cumberbatch might be uttered by the under 30 crowd.
But would anyone say Rupert Everett? I certainly would.

Everett played the Great Detective in the BBC’s Christmas 2004 broadcast of the original story “The Case of the Silk Stocking”.

In his mid 40 at the time, Everett was the perfect age to play an Edwardian Holmes and he even resembled the physical descriptions provided by Doyle. He brought the right level of arrogance, sense of justice and manic behaviour to the role and all the classic elements are there.

London is portrayed in a way rarely seen in the Holmes films and television iterations. It is not a romantic city, but a dank and dark pit of pollution and squalor. This bleak vision of the city suits the subject matter as this was not a whimsical tale nor a rip roaring adventure, but a sordid story of sexually motivated serial murder.

Holmes is put outside his comfort zone by dealing with the hypocrisy of the class system – a killer targeting girls does not prevent what he describes as the “free market” of daughters being married to titled husbands and parents seem more concerned with appearances and impressing the King than the murder of their child.

And no one (except Watson) cares about the murder of a young girl until it is revealed she is the daughter of a titled family and not a common street prostitute as initially assumed – and meets his match in the form of Watson’s future wife, an American psychiatrist who strips away all his preconceptions of women as she tells him with relish about the various fetishes described in Psychopathia Sexualis.

The supporting cast also contains such fine acting talent as Ian Hart (playing Watson for the second occasion), Neil Dudgeon as a fine Lestrade, Eleanor David, Jonathan Hyde, Helen McCroy and a then little known actor called Michael Fassbender.

In short – this is a dark Holmes story but the detective himself I feel is perhaps the closest to Doyle’s character (in both looks and manner) than the other actors who have played him.

Rupert Everett as Sherlock Holmes

What do you think of Rupert Everett’s performance in The Case of the Silk Stocking? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!


  1. I just watched this last night and thought Rupert was amazing. I’m not young, but Cumberbatch was my favorite before now. I think I’m on the Everett train, now.

  2. I have watch a number of various actors performing Sherlock Holmes; still a toss up between Rathbone and Cumberbatch, but Rupert’s stock has definitely come close to eclipsing both. Very dark, but right on the money psychologically. Definitely recommend to any serious Holmian student.

  3. Thank you so so very much for the article. I have read and seen most of the Sherlocks past and present! I don’t profess to be an expert, but this is one of the most outstanding if not a masterpiece in its own right. I was saddened it was the only one with Rupert but then it leaves TV with one of the best conundrums of what if and maybe!


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