Bisexual Role Models: Jeremy Brett
So you all need to know who this brilliant man was.
Jeremy Brett, actor from 1954 to 1995. Also known as the quintessential Sherlock Holmes. He wanted to be the best Sherlock Holmes the world had ever seen, and he was.
This was no passing acting role or whim. How dedicated was he to his role?
His most treasured possession on set was his 77-page Baker Street File, which was composed of everything from Holmes’s basic mannerisms to his eating and drinking habits.
In order to get better into his role, he did what plenty of us are familiar with: he made his own headcanons—about how lonely Holmes’s college days were, how brilliant he was at sports, how he didn’t see his father until he was twelve, how his mother was so distant.
When he first got the script for the Granada series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he found it so far adapted that he went to the script editor and said, “But you’ve asked me to do Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. These aren’t Sherlock Holmes—Doyle’s stories.“ And the editor told him, “Jeremy, you’re here to act. Just get on with it.” So he tipped the table over and his fish dinner landed in the editor’s lap. And that was the beginning of their tousle.
He would take the original story—what he always referred to as ‘the canon’—with him to every filming and fight for accuracy to Doyle’s stories, to the point that Granada gave him an extra week for rehearsals. So that the first week he would fight for Doyle, and the second week he would rehearse.
Also, his nickname for Sherlock Holmes was the “damaged penguin”, and if you don’t think that’s the greatest you can get out of my face.
He was Sherlock Holmes for ten years, and made 36 hour long episodes, and five feature-length specials. And he did all this while struggling with manic-depressive disorder, cardiomyopathy, and dyslexia. He continued playing Holmes even as his heart grew to twice its normal size, his general health and appearance deteriorated, and he had such trouble breathing that he needed an oxygen mask on set.
His only comment?
“But darlings, the show must go on.”
And he was bisexual. He married Anna Massey, though they divorced four years later. After that, he entered a committed relationship with Gary Bond for seven years, part of which they lived together in Notting Hill. He was later in a romantic relationship with Paul Shenar, which lasted five years. His last publicly known relationship was his marriage to Joan Sullivan Wilson, until her death nine years later.
So next time someone gives you shit for your sexuality, you tell them the quintessential Sherlock Holmes was bisexual and he was more brilliant than they could ever hope to be.
Modern Sherlock Holmes but he’s a 27 year old, drinks energy drinks only, is astonishing polite and has no idea how the solar system works because it was never relevant to a case but can name every every person involved in making Super Mario Bros because he did need that for a case once.
Watson is continuously appalled about his eating habits and makes vague posts on Twitter that ends in threads like
Watson: “My roommate noticed only today that he can label his email inboxs but took apart his entire bloody laptop two weeks ago.”
Person: “This reminds me of the post about the roommate who couldn’t turn on the coffee machine but remembers like 500 numbers of pi”
Watson: “I’ll be delighted to inform you that this is the very same roommate.”
To celebrate the occasion, here’s some of my favourite ladies from fiction!
Row 1: Amy Pond (Doctor Who), Sephy Hadley (Noughts and Crosses), Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Rose Tico (Star Wars), Elsa (Frozen/Disney), Melissa Chartres (The Last Man on Earth)
Row 2: Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth), Quinn Ergon (Final Space), The Thirteenth Doctor (Doctor Who), Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time), Jane Foster (Thor/MCU), Amy Santiago (Brooklyn 99)
Row 3: Brook Soso (Orange is the New Black), Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Erica Dundee (The Last Man on Earth), Kitty Winter (Sherlock Holmes), Rose Tyler (Doctor Who), Briony Tallis (Atonement)
Row 4: Meredith Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Missandei (Game of Thrones), Rey (Star Wars), Donna Noble (Doctor Who), Carol Pilbasian (The Last Man on Earth), Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Disney)
Row 5: Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones), Ash Graven (Final Space), Tiana (The Princess and the Frog/Disney), Sophia Burset (Orange is the New Black), Misty (Pokemon), Clara Oswald (Doctor Who)
Row 6: Bill Potts (Doctor Who), Mary Brown (Paddington), Mako Mori (Pacific Rim), Gwen Stacy (Spider-Man), Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who), Ursula Ditkovich (Spider-Man)
Row 7: Yaz Khan (Doctor Who), Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Man), Marceline (Adventure Time), Michelle (10 Cloverfield Lane,), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow/MCU), Mantis (Guardians of the Galaxy (MCU)
Row 8: Eponine Thenardier (Les Miserables), Mabel Pines (Gravity Falls), Sandra Kaluiokalani (Superstore), Padme Amidala (Star Wars), Martha Jones (Doctor Who), Jasmine (Aladdin/Disney)
Row 9: Beru Whitesun (Star Wars), Nakia (Black Panther/MCU), Diana (Wonder Woman), Chummy Browne (Call the Midwife), Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn 99), Leia Organa (Star Wars)
So, the Sherlock Holmes books don’t have a great reputation in terms of women. Holmes himself “disliked and distrusted” them, many of the ladies in the ACD canon are treated like helpless children, etc etc etc. But…
Allow me to present a case for the defense: Miss Kitty frickin’ Winter.
I’ve been bingewatching the Jeremy Brett Sherlocks over the past couple of days and that particular version of The Illustrious Client reminded me how much I love her. She’s not a typical Holmes woman in the slightest. She’s not rich, she’s not described as being particularly pretty, she had sex outside of marriage, chances are high she’s a prostitute (not said outright in the book, but kinda implied…) and she’s the victim of trauma at the hands of a wealthy, important man.
I don’t know how Victorian society would have perceived Kitty in terms of survivorship, but I don’t think the average person would’ve approved. Kitty is furious, endlessly furious at what’s happened to her. She wants revenge, and she isn’t going to be polite or respectable while she goes about it.
There was an intensity of hatred in her white, set face and her blazing eyes such as woman seldom and man never can attain.
Damn that’s a good line!
But here’s the quite remarkable thing, Kitty actually gets her vengeance in the end, and at little cost to herself. She doesn’t get overly punished for melting someone’s face off, she doesn’t get punished for being a fallen woman, she doesn’t get punished for her rage… she accomplishes what she wants to and survives. Oh man I love her.
(All those gifs are from Granada Sherlock Holmes but I heard a modern-day version of Kitty showed up in Elementary as well. I really gotta watch that.)
“I’m not leaving you, Holmes” – The final problem
A whole afternoon scanning old books and magazines turned out into this,
I love how they look together :)
so a while ago @everywhereilooktheres and I were talking about how there has never been an age-appropriate Sherlock Holmes adaptation–they meet in canon when Watson is twenty-nine and Holmes is TWENTY-SEVEN–and how this should be rectified.
I present to you, the Dream Fancast.
Sherlock Holmes, aged 27:
Ezra Miller is currently 26, so let’s GET ON IT
and John Watson, aged 29
Dev Patel is currently 29. YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS HE EVEN HAS A MOUSTACHE. I AM VERKLEMPT
WHO CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN, GUYS. WHO CAN DO THE THING.
I definitely agree that this Ezra Miller looks most satisfyingly “aquiline.” He has…. A FINE NOSE
Warner Bros. sets Sherlock Holmes 3 for a December 2020 release date. With his days in the Marvel Cinematic Universe potentially winding down, Robert Downey Jr.’s slate of projects continues to be filled. He still has at least one more appearance on the docket in Avengers 4, but after that, he’s going to branch out with Voyage of Doctor Dolittle. But, he isn’t going to completely abandon familiar roles either.
Whenever someone says that johnlock couldn’t be canon, because it would ruin the source material, I always have to mention Granada Sherlock Holmes.
Produced in a time when suggesting that Holmes and Watson might have been in a romantic or sexual relationship could get you black listed from Sherlockian communities, this series thumbed its nose and pushed as many boundaries as it could.
One of the first screen adaptations to showcase the equality in the partnership between the two men, it gave us a Watson who was anything but the bumbling oaf he had been in previous works. This Watson was intelligent, strong, protective, and loving. When he wasn’t doctoring his Holmes after scrapes, he was comforting him in his failure, or helping to direct him toward success.
Rather than marry Watson off, Granada kept him a happy, if often put upon, bachelor. This deviation from the source Canon was handled smoothly, by occasionally sending Watson on much needed holidays or keeping him busy at his surgery, for stories that needed the men to be separated at the beginning.
Beyond the less than subtle hints into the nature of the relationship between Holmes and Watson, Granada is noted for including a story line in one of their most well known films that dealt with why that very relationship needed to be kept a secret. Working off of a few scant lines found in the original Charles Augustus Milverton, the film The Master Blackmailer featured a subplot of a soldier taking his life, when his love affair with a man is found out. This is a subject which leads to Lestrade making the remark that it isn’t the first time it has happened to a soldier, and it certainly won’t be the last, a remark that ends with Watson all but slamming the door to Baker Street behind the inspector.
There is hardly a scene throughout the show- which ran for a decade, and included five feature length films- that doesn’t show the gentle intimacy between Holmes and Watson. Whether he is threatening an armed man with a chair, insisting that his detective eat, or jumping between Holmes and a hired thug, Watson is every inch the devoted companion. As the series progresses, and the actors change, Watson subtly evolves from a man who loves the excitement of the world Holmes has shown him, into one that wants them to slow down and think of the future. There is a delightful scene in one of the later episodes, which shows Watson obviously relieved to learn that there is money in Holmes’ family.
And of course, nothing says canon otp, like giant floating rainbows splashed across the backgrounds of their scenes together.
A lot of these episodes are available on YouTube and I just spent a few very enjoyable hours watching them. They are excellent. It is, of course, an 80s British television show, so the pacing is very different from modern pacing, the ‘violence’ is rather ham-fisted, and the budget was somewhat lacking, but based on the episodes I’ve seen, I would absolutely put this in my top three favorite adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. Highly recommend.
things sherlock holmes has canonically done:
- scrapbooked the hell out of his newspapers
- put on a hat that was too big for him
- cried because lestrade was nice to him
- got all sappy and romantic by smelling a rose
- let a puppy lead him on adventures
- “impish mood”
- lit his pipe with an ember from the fireplace because he thought it looked cool
feel free to add to this
- built a pillow fort in a client’s house
- told a guy he was giving him secret government documents and then gave him a book about bees instead
- told watson stories about his past solely to avoid cleaning his room
oh i almost forgot
- decorated his room with pictures of famous criminals
- Ordered a picnic for a pair of newlyweds
- Was offended that Watson doesn’t praise his skills as a housekeeper
- Waived his fee if his clients are too poor to pay him
- Made hot chocolate to wake Watson up on a cold morning
- Danced around and bowed to imaginary friends
- ‘Flushed up with pleasure’ when being praised
- Wouldn’t explain how he comes to conclusions because he was worried Watson would think he is ordinary
- Grabs Watson’s hand when he’s frightened
- Let another puppy lead him on adventures.
WHERE ARE YALL GETTING THIS/1!!1!!!????!?
Leaped over furniture like a gazelle.
•Shook hands with a baby :,}
- noticed watson looking sad and touching his old war wound and tried to cheer him up with some deductions about his sparkling eyes
deliberately knocked over a table, shattering a glass fruit bowl which sent fruit rolling everywhere, then blamed it on watson and ran away
- was not surprised when a dog died after its owner died, due to the “beautiful, faithful nature of dogs”
- sent watson a telegram telling him to come over at once so he could tell him his most recent thoughts about dogs and the importance of their emotions to detective work
- told Watson anecdotes about his favorite violinist for an hour while they had lunch together
made a little diagram out of breadcrumbs while explaining something to Watson
- Shared a room with watson in a house that had 11 bedrooms
- Makes his client wait while he changes into slippers
- Has a realistic dummy made of himself and uses it to fool a client
- in the same story
Let a jewel thief off one time because:
a, the thief cried
b, the case had been really easy & if the Yard couldn’t solve it then frankly fuck em
c, it was Christmas
And People ™ still think he was an unfeeling, cold man of reason. Honey that man probably slept with a fluffy stuffed bee.