RADIO / Elementary, my dear: Robert Hanks reviews The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Virgin in the Ice and Run Man Run

It should have been obvious from the beginning, of course. The secretive habits, the indifference - even aversion - to women, the intense masculine friendships, the flamboyant taste in headgear: the clues were there if you looked for them. And as the great detective said himself in 'The Greek Interpreter' - last week's episode of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Radio 4, Wednesday) - 'Art in the blood takes the strangest forms.'

A faint homoerotic tinge can be discerned in Holmes's relationship with Watson if you look at it in the right light: but Clive Merrison's performance magnifies and distorts it into high camp. As the BBC's projected complete cycle comes up to the half-way stage - it reaches a natural caesura next week when Holmes travels to the Reichenbach Falls to meet Moriarty - Merrison and his Watson, Michael Williams, are showing mild signs of strain. This Holmes, always a touch temperamental, now teases, bullies and flirts with a weary, henpecked Watson who musters the odd flash of retaliatory sarcasm, but mostly sinks into a submissiveness bordering on the masochistic.

Gerry Jones's dramatisation of 'The Greek Interpreter' added new dimensions to the relationship. This is the story in which we meet Mycroft, Sherlock's brother and his superior in observation. Being too lazy to take any active part in the matter, he asks Sherlock's help in solving a mystery that afflicts his upstairs neighbour, the interpreter of the title. Aside from some necessary fiddling with Doyle's over-formal dialogue, one of Jones's innovations is to have Mycroft call his brother 'My dear' (not 'My dear Sherlock', just 'My dear') - once or twice, Sherlock throws the familiarity back at him rather acidly. This Holmes, too, has a passion for picnics in the park ('With a dear friend,' he tells Watson), and turns sulky and childish if Watson tries to bring up serious business. Such behaviour is not strictly according to Doyle; but this Holmes is highly enterprising, and the cycle is still deeply entertaining.

How different from Brother Cadfael. For a start, Ellis Peters' medieval monk-cum-amateur sleuth is robustly heterosexual: 'Love shared is no sin,' he said last week in The Virgin in the Ice (Radio 4, Thursday), reminiscing fondly about a widow he used to know in the Holy Lands.

The talents involved in this serialisation are considerable: Sir Michael Hordern speaks the narration and Philip Madoc plays Cadfael, while Bert Coules, the adapter, has been responsible for some of the best of the Holmes dramatisations. But they can't dispel the sense that this is cod history: the language is toned down Ivanhoe ('I will so say,' a peasant declares, agreeing to pass on a message), and Cadfael seems untouched by any of those theological prejudices you might expect from a medieval monk - as the remark about the widow makes clear, he suffers no Augustinian anxieties about the flesh, and God seems a rather remote influence on his life. If any historical period is represented by his benignly liberal outlook, it's the 1960s, not the 1130s.

Cadfael is another in a long run of fictional detectives endowed with distinguishing idiosyncrasies. Others have been insurance men, or Roman Catholic priests, or peers of the realm, or jockeys, or portrait painters, or dons, or Belgians; or they have some vaguely eccentric hobby, like growing roses, or orchids, or writing poetry or solving crosswords. Cadfael's shtick is that he lives in the 12th century. Apart from that, he is a colourless character - for someone nominally concerned with prospects in the next world, he remains oddly earthbound; and, most dispiritingly, he is utterly without humour.

He loses out in that respect to the characters of Run Man Run (Radio 5, Monday), a convoluted and bloody novel by Chester Himes now adapted in four parts. In the first episode, set around four o'clock one morning between Christmas and New Year 1959, Detective Walker (Bill Nighy, cramping his vowels rather uncomfortably into something approaching a New York accent) turns up at a diner, drunk and angry and, after some crosstalk, shoots one of the night-porters for stealing his car. Realising his mistake, he tries to clear up the mess by killing the other porters; he gets one, but is interrupted before he can do more than severely wound the other.

Even muted by a silencer, the shooting comes across brutally in Chris Wallis's production. But what's more striking than the cartoon violence and the racism - Walker is white, his victims are black - is that the author allows you to sympathise with Walker's frustration and cynicism, and to admire the wit of his hastily improvised explanation of how he came to be surrounded by corpses. This, you can't help feeling, is what a murder ought to be.

Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
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.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map