Brett, Burke, and the Greatest Friendship Ever

Some excerpts from a lovely interview with Jeremy Brett were making the rounds on Twitter recently. (The full interview was published in the Fall 1985 issue of The Armchair Detective.) In the article, Brett talks a bit about how he and David Burke approached character development, especially for Doctor Watson:

We asked ourselves, “Who’d stay with Holmes? Well, Watson does. But therefore why does he stay?” All right, he’s fascinated with deduction – he still has never recovered [from the surprise at] Holmes’s knowing he had just come back from Afghanistan – but there’s more than that.

Holmes was obviously not an easy person to live with, what with the indoor shooting practice and the chemical experiments and the impromptu violin practice at all hours. Yet, Watson stays.

I think that what I found in what I call the under-bedding of the part is that somehow Watson sees this man’s need. First of all, Holmes falls apart when he’s not working. […] So he’s obviously a problem child as well as a brilliant friend. Watson sees that. Watson sees that Holmes can’t say “Thank you”; he can’t say “Good night,” can’t say “Help.”

Best friendship in human history, Holmes and Watson. They balance each other. They need each other.

If Watson suddenly decided to go and live, let’s say, in Madagascar, Holmes would be dead inside of six weeks. And that’s what we chose to play.

Selena Buttons went in search of the original magazine issue to read the full interview, but, while the local used bookshop had several issues of The Armchair Detective from the mid-90s and even more from the late-70s, they did not have this particular one from 1985.

What do you think of the way the Granada series portrayed the relationship between Holmes and Watson? Do you have a favorite moment?

But what Holmes does occasionally is rather sweet little things like in “A Scandal in Bohemia” he tells Watson, “You see, I did remember you were coming; here are your cigars.” And it’s the little things that mean a lot. I tried to show how much Holmes does actually need Watson without actually saying it.