There is no dispute that Britishness (The Union of nations) has had a profound, perhaps one of the biggest, influences upon Global society. From having the most widely spoken language in the world, through to customs and values, the western world is very “British”. From the British colonisation period in the 17-19th century, through to the British Invasion of music in the 1960s, they have influenced our society in many ways, however, how are they represented in today’s television arena?
In today’s television world, the only theme that sells more than sex is crime, and nobody does crime better than the English. For today’s blog post, I will be focusing on Sherlock Holmes, the immensely popular and influential crime fighter.
Sherlock Holmes first appeared in Beestons Christmas Annual in the novel A Study In Scarlet (Khorana week 8) in 1887. The majority of Holmes stories are not from the detective, rather they are from his faithful assistant John Watson, with only two stories being from Sherlocks perspective. Following this, Holmes has been adapted for many media mediums, ranging from narratives to television through to films. The popularity and influence of Sherlock is shown through this lasting presence in literature and film, as stated in Week 8 lecture-
“In part this appeal rests on a desire for a constructed – and nostalgic- ( Victorian) England where order emerges from chaos. The figure of Sherlock Holmes represents an idealised Englishness: one which is imaginary and constructed.” (Khorana Week 8)
Following on from this, the crime fiction narrative was formed, which was followed on through the Miss Marple cases and the American Murder She Wrote series. While not being the first in the Detective genre, Sherlock grew the “fan base” if you will. As stated in the lecture,the following show what English crime fiction/dramas typically base themselves around:
English Country House,
The initial crime, an ‘inside job’ a number of suspects, a skilled ( usually) amateur detective, bungling professionals, red herrings, clues, crime reconstruction , final plot twist.
Agatha Christie’s characters of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple follow this genre as does Sherlock Holmes. Other prominent writers include Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Ruth Rendell and P. D. James (Khorana Week 8)
In wrapping this post up (there never is enough time!) we have seen the influence that British crime drama has had on a range of cultural shows, ranging from the CSI and Criminal Minds series through to how fictional detective dramas are produced. Sherlock, while exported throughout the world and even being made for the US (Elementary), it has still retained its unique Britishness which has helped strengthen its reception.
Stay Classy UOW