Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking
Written byAllan Cubitt
Directed bySimon Cellan Jones
StarringRupert Everett
Ian Hart
Jonathan Hyde
Eleanor David
Helen McCrory
Neil Dudgeon
Music byAdrian Johnston
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
ProducerElinor Day
CinematographyDavid Katznelson
EditorPaul Garrick
Running time99 minutes
Production companiesBBC
Tiger Aspect Productions
Original release26 December 2004 (2004-12-26)
Preceded byThe Hound of the Baskervilles

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking is a British television film originally broadcast on BBC One in the UK on 26 December 2004. Produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, it was written by Allan Cubitt and was a sequel to the same company's adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, made for the BBC two years previously.[1] Although Silk Stocking retained the same Dr. Watson, Ian Hart, this time the character of Sherlock Holmes was played by Rupert Everett.


In November 1903, young women are being killed in London, each with a silk stocking stuffed down her throat. Watson seeks help from the retired and disenchanted Holmes, who determines that the victims are well-born ladies, not prostitutes. Evidence found includes a thumbprint, a pair of ladies' dancing shoes, broken glass, a strong smell of chloroform and a silk stocking removed from a victim's gullet. It seems that the killer has a foot fetish.

Holmes questions a survivor - a young girl who was apparently set free by her captor because she has a club foot - and arranges for her to "accidentally" see the footman that he suspects is the killer, despite his ironclad alibis. The girl identifies him as her kidnapper, but the thumbprint clears the suspect. Holmes then baits a trap for the killer: he uses the sister of a victim and has her perform in a classical tableau at an event attended by the King and Queen. Her Grecian-Roman costume is revealing, and her sandals expose her feet. After the performance, she walks away to be alone; the suspect drugs her and is quickly caught by Holmes and placed in custody. The sister returns home and is tucked into bed by her father.

However, the suspect's thumbprint doesn't match the evidence. Holmes suspects the killer has an identical twin, and that the real killer is still on the loose. Holmes telephones the father of the "bait" sister to warn him, but the real killer has kidnapped her from her bed just minutes earlier. The viewer sees the killer carrying her over his shoulder as blood drips from her face, where he cut her with broken glass.

The police force the other twin to lead them to his brother, but he escapes the police. Holmes finds the killer and his victim just in time; the young woman has a silk stocking tied around her neck, and Watson has to cut it and perform something that looks like CPR, which was known in similar form from the late-18th century but did not come into standardised common usage until the mid-20th century. Holmes gets the killer twin to confess that he wanted his victims' attention, because they looked at him while in captivity. Both twins are then taken into custody.

At the end, Watson marries his fiancée Jenny Vandeleur, an American psychoanalyst who had aided in the investigation. They leave on honeymoon, and Holmes is left sitting alone at the table.




Some co-production funding for the drama was provided by United States PBS broadcaster WGBH, and it was later shown on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre in 2005. The original title for the production was Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Season, the name being changed only a few weeks before transmission.[2] While Ian Hart returned from the earlier The Hound of the Baskervilles film, in this film Rupert Everett replaced Richard Roxburgh as Sherlock Holmes.[1] Guy Henry who had earlier portrayed Sherlock Holmes in Young Sherlock: The Mystery of the Manor House was cast in the minor role of Mr. Bilney.[1]

Directed by Simon Cellan Jones, the production filmed in and around London in late summer 2003.[1] The musical score is by Adrian Johnston.[1]

The book given to Holmes by Mrs Vandeleur is Psychopathia Sexualis.[3]


Filming on location at Somerset House for Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking
Filming on location at Somerset House for Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking

Unlike Baskervilles, this production was an original story written by Allan Cubitt,[4] although the script used some lines of dialogue for Holmes taken from Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories. Set in the early 1900s, Cubitt provided Watson with a new wife and indicates that it had been some time since he and Holmes last worked together.

"This is a departure," said Rebecca Eaton, executive producer for WGBH in Boston, which produced the show with the BBC and Tiger Aspect Productions. "That's what we say at PBS when we don't know what is going to happen. We could be arrested by the Conan Doyle police - or at least severely reprimanded - because we are departing from the canon."[3]


Reviews of the drama were generally mixed. "I did feel that this peculiar tale was intended to tickle American tootsies," Nancy Banks-Smith wrote in The Guardian. "The king was announced as 'King Edward the Seventh', Dr Watson married a Yankee psychiatrist [psychoanalyst], the duchess was having an affair with the footman, well, two as it turned out, and the London fog never lifted."[5]

The film had a rating of 75 out of 100 on Metacritic in 2014.[6] Robert Bianco of USA Today remarked, "Everett sticks close enough to the outline created by Arthur Conan Doyle to be recognizably Sherlockian, and yet he deviates enough to create an amusing character all his own."[7] Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal wrote, "Everett carries the role of the master detective off with dispatch—a portrayal rich in tortured silences and seasoned with touches of campy authority."[8] Marilyn Stasio, writing for The Daily Telegraph, called Everett's interpretation "elegant and decidedly decadent".[3]

Melanie McFarland of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said, "The Case of the Silk Stocking contains more than the usual share of pedestrian turns of phrase, and Neil Dudgeon's Inspector Lestrade is less than an afterthought here. Everett makes up for it with a haunting portrayal."[9] Brian Lowry of Variety wrote, "The Case of the Silk Stocking is a rather wan addition to the Holmes filmography, yet respectable enough in showcasing the character's cerebral charms. If push comes to shove, though, when all the revisionism's done, I prefer my Holmes in black-and-white."[10]

The Daily Telegraph rated Everett as number 12 on their 20 greatest Sherlock Holmes.[11]

DVD release

The film was released on DVD in 2005, with an audio commentary by Cellan Jones and producer Elinor Day.


  1. ^ a b c d e Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. pp. 203–205. ISBN 9780857687760.
  2. ^ BBC Press Office release — A magical mystery tour of the world on the BBC this Christmas. BBC. 24 November 2004.
  3. ^ a b c "Attention, Holmes Devotees: Baker Street Is Irregular". The Daily Telegraph. 22 October 2005. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking". PBS. Archived from the original on 2 November 2005. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  5. ^ Banks-Smith, Nancy. Who's the daddy now? (subscription link). "The Guardian". Monday 27 December 2004.
  6. ^ "Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Silk Stocking reviews at". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 5 September 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  7. ^ Bianco, Robert (20 October 2005). "Everett steps into Sherlock's 'Stocking'". USA Today. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Return of the Master Detective". Wall Street Journal. 1 January 1980. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  9. ^ Mcfarland, Melanie (21 October 2005). "BBC shows get away with murder in the U.S". Seattle Pi. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  10. ^ Brian Lowry TV Columnist @blowryontv (20 October 2005). "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking Review - TV Show Reviews - Analysis Of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking The TV Series". Variety. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Sherlock: the 20 greatest Sherlock Holmes". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 January 2012.