"what a blind beetle I have been" [PRIO]
Did you ever have a moment when you were trying to remember the origin of a Sherlock Holmes quote, but you just couldn't quite place it?
Maybe you remember the quote exactly. Or perhaps just the gist of the quote, but not the exact words. And you go to your favorite source for searching the stories, putting in a variety of search terms, but nothing comes up.
Then you spend some time trying to recall if you got the quote just right, and where you may have come across it. Was it something Holmes said? Was it an exchange with Watson? Or with a client? Was it uttered in Baker Street, or out at the scene of an investigation?
Where did I see it? Where did I see it?
I had one of those moments recently. I wanted to source this (ostensibly) Canonical quote and insert it into some conversation thread on Facebook or Twitter, and in those instances I like to have the story from which the quote is taken.
The quote in question was was:
"A small occurrence perhaps, but only small I think in a way that a vibrating needle may signal an earthquake."
But I just couldn't find it.
I remembered the quote vividly. I searched every iteration of how I seemed to remember it. And still, nothing.
And then it hit me.
The quote wasn't from the Canon at all. It was from one of the Granada episodes with Jeremy Brett. It was from the opening scene with Dr. Huxtable coming to after having passed out on the hearth rug. Here's the context:
"In speculating what storm had blown you here, I took the liberty of searching your person, I hope you will forgive me."It's a testament to the team at Granada that they were able to adapt a scene from the original story, but add their own details and dialog in such away that it fit perfectly with what we would expect to read on the page.
"Oh yes, yes of course."
"Your watch. Unblemished for at least thirty years, suddenly this morning scratched—when you thrust those coins, unthinkingly into your waistcoat pocket. The stern habit of a lifetime trampled under foot.
A small occurrence perhaps but own small think in a way that a vibrating needle may signal an earthquake."
That was certainly the case with the writing team for BBC Radio when Bert Coules was the head writer for the project that resulted in the entire Sherlock Holmes canon being dramatized for radio. There were instances when the team had to create situations for listeners that were not expressly written out by Watson. The writers had to infer and invent. Bert explains the entire process in 221 BBC: Writing for the World's Only Completely Dramatised Canon and Beyond.
When a writing team is fully invested in the project and has an intimate knowledge of the characters and style of the original material, it's more likely that a new scene or dialog will be just as believable (if not more so!) than the source material.
It certainly has fooled me more than once. How about you?
Bonus ContentWe had occasion to speak with Bert Coules about radio adaptations over the course of two episodes of I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere: Episode 68 and Episode 69.
We also spoke with Arielle Lipshaw and Jeremy Latour about adaptations in Episode 160.