No Place Like Holmes

As the festive season approaches, I was back at the Black Gate once more to give a talk on the late, great Basil Rathbone, an actor forever associated with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal detective Sherlock Holmes.

Much that I love the Castle Keep for its Gothic atmosphere, the Black Gate is much warmer, and the intimate setting was perfect for my talk, which, for the first time, I used power-point. My thanks to Peter Cumisky for sorting all that out for me.

And despite the obvious high of the Newcastle Book Festival, it remained an important factor for me as a guest speaker to be well prepared so notes (and books) at the ready, it was a wonderful opportunity to talk about an actor I grew up with, whether he was solving a complex murder case or getting out-fenced by Errol Flynn! So with my admiration for Rathbone added something to the evening.

The talk focused on Rathbone’s tumultuous association with Holmes, and how it affected his life and limited his career options. The relationship between the actor and his signature role was far from being a happy one.

The use of power-point was also an advantage. Full marks to Pete for his work on selecting rare photos from Rathbone’s early life as along with some classic video clips, including one from a television adaptation of A Christmas Carol (appropriate for the time of year) where he played Scrooge. Of point of interest, the actor starred in four TV versions of the famous Charles Dickens tale; two as Scrooge and two as Marley’s Ghost.

The talk ended with a brief Q & A session before meeting up a few fans for a real ale or two at the Bridge Hotel next door.

My last talk of 2016 ended on a happy note. More to follow in the new year!

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