‘Killing Sherlock: Lucy Worsley on the Case of Conan Doyle’ heads to BBC/PBS

Killing Sherlock: Lucy Worsley on the Case of Conan Doyle. Photo: BBC Studios

Unfortunately, it’s not a new series of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman but, for my money, it’s the next best thing as the brilliant Lucy Worsley will tackle the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and his literary creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in an upcoming 3-part documentary.

Doyle came to hate Holmes and killed him off in print only to be forced to revive him upon public demand. In Killing Sherlock: Lucy Worsley on the Case of Conan Doyle, historian Lucy Worsley investigates the love-hate relationship in a parallel biography of Holmes and the man who created him.

The series follows in the footsteps of the upcoming PBS documentary series, Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley on the Mystery Queen, with Worsley as the ideal investigator unearthing Holmes’ origins in Doyle’s early life as a medical student, unpicking his early stories and revealing the dark underbelly of late Victorian Britain – from drug use to true crime.

Worsely will explore Doyle’s growing disenchantment with his detective creation and desire to distance himself from Holmes and investigates the darkness of his later stories, mirroring the reality of Doyle’s life after the loss of his eldest son, his turn to spiritualism and declining public appeal and spat with a famous magician.

Sounding equally as excited as she did leading up to her Agatha Christie series, Worsley said “I have had a life-long crush on Sherlock Holmes, so it was the biggest pleasure imaginable to explore his life, death and resurrection. While exploring his life and times, I also got a real and sometimes troubling insight into manliness, Empire and Victorian values. I find his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, to be a complex, contradictory and endlessly fascinating character.

On a related note, to accompany the series, Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, who has a tradition of adapting ghost stories for the BBC for Christmas, has adapted Doyle’s short story “Lot No. 249”, starring Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) and Freddie Fox (Worried About the Boy, The Crown). It revolves around a group of Oxford students, one of whom undertakes research into the secrets of ancient Egypt which become the talk of the college.

Gatiss said: “It’s a serious delight for me to delve once again into the brilliant work of Arthur Conan Doyle, this time for the Christmas ghost story. ‘Lot No.249’ is a personal favorite and is the grand-daddy of a particular kind of end of Empire chiller: a ripping yarn packed with ghastly scares and who-knows-what lurking in the Victorian closet.

While Worsley’s Killing Sherlock: Lucy Worsley on the Case of Conan Doyle will transmit on both BBC1 and PBS, let’s all hold out hope that Gatiss’ Lot No.249 for the BBC will also make its way to PBS during the 2024 holiday season.

In: Odds & Sods