The Blagger's Guide To...Professor Moriarty

'He's part master criminal, and part Brian Cox'

*Sherlock Holmes's arch enemy, Professor Moriarty, is at the centre of tonight's third and final episode of the current BBC adaptation (Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall, BBC1, 9pm).

The episode (which has a fleeting scene of Dr Watson reading The Independent) is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1893 story "The Final Problem", and stars the Irish actor Andrew Scott as one of literature's most famous villains. His first words tonight are: "No rush."

*Scott's take on Moriarty is that "People that you're really frightened of, it's usually because you don't know anything about them. You think, 'God I've no idea what he may do'...What is really scary about Moriarty is that he can be right in front of you, hiding in plain sight. There's an audacity about that."

*In this series, and the last (broadcast on BBC1 in three episodes in summer 2010), Moriarty has, so far, only appeared for a total of about 15 minutes.

*Moriarty has been depicted many times on screen, including by: Orson Welles, Spike Milligan, Laurence Olivier, and a holodeck simulation (in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation).

*Although Moriarty is famous as Holmes's nemesis, he appears in person in only two of Conan Doyle's stories: "The Final Problem", in which he is introduced in order to kill off Holmes so that the author can concentrate on more highbrow writing pursuits, and again in "The Valley of Fear" (published in book form in 1915), which is set before Holmes's supposed death and subsequent resurrection.

*According to Holmes, Moriarty is "the celebrated author of 'The Dynamics of an Asteroid', a book which ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that it is said that there was no man in the scientific press capable of criticising it". Unfortunately, he also "had hereditary tendencies of the most diabolical kind. A criminal strain ran in his blood, which, instead of being modified, was increased and rendered infinitely more dangerous by his extraordinary mental powers."

*There is little in the stories to describe Moriarty physically, except to say that he had "a high, domed forehead" – a feature that was believed to indicate great intellectual ability.

*Among Conan Doyle scholars and Holmes fans there has been much speculation that Moriarty was based on two people: Adam Worth, an international master criminal, and the US astronomer, mathematician and multi-talented genius Simon Newcomb – a sort of 19th-century Brian Cox.

*Moriarty is "the Napoleon of Crime, the greatest schemer of all time, the organiser of every devilry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations".

*At the end of the Conan Doyle story on which tonight's episode is based, both Holmes and Moriarty are presumed (by Watson) to have fallen to their deaths in the Alps. At the real Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, a plaque reads: "At this fearful place, Sherlock Holmes vanquished Professor Moriarty, on 4 May 1891." Eventually, owing to popular demand, Conan Doyle brought back Holmes in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (serialised in The Strand Magazine in 1901 and 1902), revealing that he did not die but lay low. The BBC will not reveal whether there will be a third series of Sherlock.

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power