The Brettish Empire
Vol. I #9

June 17, 1995

Hello, and welcome to the ninth issue of The Brettish Empire. This issue is bursting at the seams with Brettnews, so let's get right to it...


Two denizens of "The Empire", Sonia Fetherston and Debi Rotmil, both visited Britain last month. Sonia and Debi were kind enough to share their experiences with me and now I'm sharing them with you.

First, here's Sonia: "'I hear of Sherlock everywhere'...Brett's face was omnipresent! Keychains, book covers, posters, etc., used Brett's image to publicize Sherlock Holmes. I couldn't go anywhere in London (or Edinburgh, for that matter) without 'seeing' Jeremy Brett! It's clear that he has unseated Basil Rathbone for all time as 'the' Holmes in the public's subconscious."

And, now Debi: "My first Brett encounter started on Tuesday when I came back from a long day of museum hopping and some shopping. I switched on BBC2 and began to watch this gameshow called Today's the Day...strange title, but it was about dates and historical events which tested the memory and chronological skills of the contestants. It was rather boring, so I began to read a magazine while the sound of the show went on.

Suddenly, I looked up, and a British Pathe newsreel from 1958 was rolling. It announced the wedding of Anna Massey to the young actor Jeremy Brett. There they were, coming out of the church, little bride Anna Massey (who I hardly saw for the groom), and a very dashing, adorable Jeremy. I was astonished that this was an event that was covered by the British press and shown in cinemas back then. However, I remembered that Anna Massey's mother was a very well-known actress and socialite who thrived on this sort of attention. Anna Massey was also a debutante in her day due to her parental connections (her father Raymond Massey was a legendary actor), and was apparently one of the last debutantes to have been presented "at Court"...that is, to be presented to the Queen. They don't do that sort of pageantry stuff anymore. Therefore, this attention, due to her parents, was justified, but, wow, I was shocked to see it! Also, Anna was gaining some fame in her first West End play, ironically entitled, The Reluctant Debutante. Rather sad to know that the marriage only lasted four years...

"I also went on the Granada Studio Tour. Paid a visit to our old friend 'Baker Street'...poor old set, still tired and strained from the tourism of it all. Looks nothing of the old Street of the Sherlock days. They've added a new store to the set. It's an astrology shop which sells all kinds of astrological stuff--why it's on Baker Street, I shall never know, but I think it has something to do with Sherlock's sun sign being important.

"The tour itself had some interesting moments. Especially when they showed us wardrobe and makeup. There was a photo display on the various stages of making up actor Clive Francis' face for The Man With the Twisted Lip episode. They also had a video-taped demonstration on how they did the makeup for 'Tonga', the pygmy man in The Sign of Four. He is a cute little Indian man, and the makeup was extensive."

While in Manchester, Deb also visited the Victoria & Albert Hotel--graced by JB himself in the days when he was filming 'Holmes'. "In the lounge there is a painted portrait of Jeremy (which he owns and has lent to the hotel) as Holmes. Very nice. Also, there is this fantastic double photo of Jeremy. One side shows him as Sherlock, looking over his shoulders into the camera; the other side shows young Jeremy in the same pose, dressed as Freddie Eynsford-Hill from My Fair Lady in his morning garb, top hat and all. It's a wonderful comparison on this fine man--the younger Jeremy and the older Jeremy, same pose, similiar wardrobe, different characters, 30 years apart. There is a handwritten letter from Jeremy next to this framed photo thanking them for their hospitality. I spent the night at this hotel, and I must admit, it is a very charming place!"

Thank you, Sonia and Debi, for your fascinating travelogues.


Deb also let me know that the film Mad Dogs and Englishmen recently opened in England. The good news--Jeremy's in it. The bad news--it got worse reviews than the film Heaven's Gate. HOWEVER--Deb reported that one reviewer, while panning the film in general, cited Jeremy's brief appearance as the film's only bright spot. Jeremy apparently plays a drug-dealing aristocrat, and at one point, when the police burst into his house during a wild party, he gestures to the crowd of partygoers and says something like, "Arrest them all--they're beginning to bore me." Now, while this might not be the kind of role we all had in mind for Jeremy (remember now, he is a versatile actor), I think that line is a classic.

Which neatly ties in with a note I got from Susan Mitchell about some of Jeremy's other great lines. "I don't know if you've done this in your newsletter since I haven't been lucky enough to see them all yet. But I enjoyed your mention of Jeremy's line in My Fair Lady, 'How DO you do.' I also love that one. I began to think of some other lines I enjoy hearing over and over.

"Here are a couple that immediately come to mind. There is a scene in The Eligible Bachelor when Dr. Watson is interviewing the title character within earshot of a psychically distressed Holmes. Due to Mrs. Hudson's persistent knocking on the door, Holmes reluctantly comes into the sitting room and begins listening to the plight of the abandoned groom. Watson remarks to Holmes that he thought he was sleeping. Holmes says deliciously, 'Well, I'm wide awake now!' A terrific line! We know we're in for something exciting.

'Another favorite is from The Hound of the Baskervilles. Holmes, Watson, Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry are having breakfast in London and discussing the recent strange events at Baskerville Hall. Sir Charles wants Holmes to go with him to solve this 'little mystery'. Holmes says he has to stay in town to work on a blackmail case. He turns to Sir Henry and says, 'I recommend my friend Watson'. That little pleading smile on Jeremy Brett's face forces a sigh from me no matter how many times I see it. There are many other lines I could list, of course. If you haven't done this in your newsletter yet, I think it would be fun to read the favorites of other fans."

I think it would be too, Susan. So, I invite all TBE'ers to share their favorite Jeremy lines with us. I'll start the ball rolling with a couple of mine. One of my favorite moments from The Eligible Bachelor was when Watson informed Holmes that Inspector Lestrade would not be involved in the case because he was on holiday at Leamington Spa. "Lestrade loose at Leamington Spa!" Holmes frets. "I do hope his wife is with him." Another favorite line from TEB is when Holmes learns the price a hotel charges for a glass of sherry. "Eight-pence for a glass of sherry?" he asks archly. I think the look on Jeremy's face when he says this is priceless.

I also like Holmes' dry answer when Lestrade asks him, in The Norwood Builder, if he is aware that fingerprints are being used to identify criminals:

"I have heard something of the kind". 

Finally, another favorite comes from The Final Problem. Watson is tending to a wound on Holmes' hand, suffered during his scuffle with Moriarty's thugs. Holmes is stoically recounting the incident as Watson puts disinfectant on his hand. Suddenly, Holmes cries out: "Ouch!". It's a great moment, showing the more vulnerable, human side of Holmes.

As Susan said, "there are many other lines I could list". And, I will, if you send them in.

And, now, before I end this issue of TBE, I must share some wonderful news with you. TBE'er Bonnie MacBird recently told Ms. Catherine Cooke of the Westminster Library in England about TBE. The Westminster Library maintains a world-famous collection of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia. Contained in the Collection are files on every actor who has portrayed Holmes. One of those files is devoted to Jeremy Brett, and Ms. Cooke said she would like to include TBE in Jeremy's file! Ms. Cooke has been added to the TBE mailing list so she will receive each new issue as it is sent out. I am honored that TBE will have a place in such a distinguished collection. I am also humbled--never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that my little newsletter could go so far. Thank you, Ms. Cooke--I hope that you and the Library find TBE useful and enjoyable. And, thank you, Bonnie, for your tremendous faith in TBE. And, finally, "thank you" to every one of my readers and contributors, for without you, TBE would not be possible.

One final note--your editor will be "on holiday" during the last week of June. I'll answer all e-mail correspondence when I return.

Well, take care everyone, and I'll see you next time.

Lisa :-)

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