BBC Radio: Sherlock Holmes - The Devil's Foot Review

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Andrew East continues his journey through the audio adventures of Sherlock Holmes.


We now have an unusual entry into the Sherlock Holmes audio marathon, with a straightforward reading, rather than a full cast audio drama. One of the earlier cases, The Speckled Band, was in this style, but this is not a Big Finish play, rather one broadcast on Radio 4 Extra. It is read by James Nickerson.

As Holmes stories are written in the first person from the point of view of Doctor Watson, this is who Nickerson is, essentially, playing – much like Richard Earl in the Big Finish adaptation of The Speckled Band. The difference here, though, is that – as a single voice audio, Nickerson is also called upon to perform as Holmes and the other characters. He makes a pretty good job of it although there wasn’t a huge distinction between his ‘Watson’ and his ‘Holmes’.

The case under investigation is a good one. Visiting Cornwall, Holmes and Watson investigate a situation where a woman has died and her two brothers have been driven insane. This has all occurred in one room with nothing disturbed and no sign of an intruder. A third brother, who had been with them just before the mysterious events happened, returns to find them in this state and, a few days later, apparently succumbs to the same fate. With vague suggestions of a supernatural force, Holmes eventually surmises that the siblings have all been poisoned by an airborne element. He conducts a very dangerous experiment exposing himself and Watson to the same drug.

It is eventually discovered that the third brother, Mortimer, actually administered the drug himself before leaving his siblings. His death, however, was at the hands of the sister’s lover in revenge for her murder.

When I realised this was a single voice audio reading my heart sank and I almost decided to skip it. However, I gave it a go and I’m glad I did. Nickerson is a good reader and that this is an interesting and unusual case helped to maintain my interest.

A primary school teacher and father of two, Andrew finds respite in the worlds of Doctor Who, Disney and general geekiness. Unhealthily obsessed with Lance Parkin’s A History, his Doctor Who viewing marathon is slowly following Earth history from the Dawn of Time to the End of the World. He would live in a Disney theme park if given half the chance.

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