The Brettish Empire

"Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far into the silent land..."

--Christina Rossetti

September 12, 1999

Hello Everyone,

As you know, Jeremy Brett left us four years ago today. Earlier this week, someone on a mystery-related message board asked, "Does anyone still care about Jeremy Brett?" The following tribute, written this month by a new TBE reader in response to Melanie Hughes' poignant "Gulp Friction," resoundingly answers that question:

"Dear Ms. Oldham,

I just recently discovered The Brettish Empire. I love the whole site, but in particular, I'm especially grateful to you for reprinting that lovely tribute story by Melanie Hughes. (I just re-read it, and started crying anew.) I myself tried to hold back my tears for nearly four years now. I didn't realize it until recently, but I've been in mourning for most of that time. I thought I was simply inexplicably depressed. However, flipping around the channels late one night, I happened upon a Sherlock Holmes program on A&E -- I don't even remember which now. It was after 1 a.m., which may account for my memory lapse, but I sat transfixed at Mr. Brett's ever complex and engaging portrayal of Holmes.

I thought to myself, during the commercial break, 'Why haven't I been watching these?' You see, I had four video tapes full of Granada's Sherlock Holmes productions that I recorded off PBS, but they had just been gathering dust for four years. Then it dawned on me why I hadn't been watching them, and I started to cry, then and there. Niagara, or should I say Reichenbach, Falls! Back when I discovered the Granada Sherlock Holmes programs, I was a fledgling writer, and had even in my audacity penned a couple of my own Sherlock Holmes stories. I will never forget that day: I was a junior in high school, and I watched public television regularly, but I'd never really been much into Mystery! That was until I saw The Adventure of the Naval Treaty with Jeremy Brett.

'Who is this guy?!?' I thought. 'He's incredible!!!' I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles as a freshman, and I was, of course, instantly hooked on Holmes. Then one day I turned on the television, and Holmes just stepped out of one of Sidney Paget's drawings: straight from the 'Strand' onto the TV screen. And I had a new idol! (And that's not even to mention my surprise when I was re-watching My Fair Lady -- 'Omigod, that's the guy who plays Sherlock Holmes!')

When I heard of Jeremy Brett's death, I shelved all my writings indefinitely. There was simply no point to writing about Holmes after such a loss, because Sherlock Holmes was gone. Forever, in my mind. No one can fill his shoes. It is no small feat to take such an overplayed character and make it your own. He breathed new life into the dying detective. This wasn't another emotionless Rathbone, with his smug 'Elementary, my dear Watson!' This was Holmes as he was on the page -- a charming man with a great sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic. Oh yes, and not a bad detective either. Basil Rathbone was an automaton: Jeremy Brett was Sherlock Holmes.

I have since started writing again. Being four years older and wiser now, I think my stories are turning into better mysteries now, as well, but this was a conscious effort on my part. I decided, instead of mourning the loss in silence, to dedicate my work in loving memory to Mr. Brett. After all, once I had seen him in the role, I never wrote a word without imagining Jeremy Brett acting out the described action, I never composed a line of dialogue without hearing his silky baritone voice saying the words. Even though I will never be able to thank him in person for the inspiration he has given me, Sherlock Holmes will live on through his work, and hopefully also through mine someday as well. At the risk of revealing what a nerd I am (if my signature file doesn't give it away fully), to quote Dr. McCoy from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: 'He's really not dead, as long as we remember him.'

And thanks again for your continuing on-line tribute to the late, great Jeremy Brett.

Photo from "The Secret of Sherlock Holmes"  (K. Harding/c. 1988 YAT)


Dovie Reynolds
ICQ#38635943, DovieLR on AIM

'Quantum Mechanics: The dreams that stuff are made of.' -- Author Unknown"

And, thank you, Dovie, for allowing me to share your moving tribute.

Until next time,

Lisa :-)

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