Famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes broke records recently when he was officially recognised as the ‘Most Portrayed Literary Character in Film and Television.’ Since his creation in 1887, the super-sleuth has been depicted on-screen 254 times, beating his nearest rival, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, by a massive 48 portrayals.
The record has been awarded by London & Partners as part of World Record London, a campaign which is attempting over 20 Guinness World Records in an effort to turn London into a multi-record breaking city in time for the 2012 Olympics.
Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes featured in four novels and 56 short stories. His first known screen appearance was in a thirty-second silent movie from the 1890’s called Sherlock Holmes Baffled, in which the detective is set upon by a burglar. He has since appeared in hundreds of film and television adaptations, accompanied by his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson, and usually getting into a battle of wits with arch-nemesis Moriarty.
He has been played by over 75 actors, including Jeremy Brett, Roger Moore, John Cleese, Peter O’Toole, Peter Cooke, Christopher Lee, Benedict Cumberbatch, and by Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011).
The character of Sherlock Holmes has become both a British institution and a national treasure. A self described ‘consulting detective’ living at the now world famous address of 221B Baker Street, Holmes is an anti-social genius, solving the most cryptic of crimes with his particular brand of irrefutable logic. He is also a violinist, a boxer, a swordsman, a constant smoker and a drug addict – he injects himself with cocaine and sometimes with morphine (although he disapproves of opium).
His quirky personality and undeniable detecting skills have turned him into one of the best loved fictional characters in the world. Arthur Conan Doyle chose to kill him off in 1893’s The Final Problem, but was forced to bring him back to life nine years later due to phenomenal public demand.
As is proved by the sheer amount of screen adaptations, whether they are high or low budget, period or modern, Sherlock Holmes is a character that can be re-imagined again and again without losing any of his appealing gravitas.