Originally aired 11th October 1962 on the BBC Light Programme.
Available on the double-CD box set A Little More Sherlock and John (BBC Music, 1997).
ANNOUNCER: This is the BBC Light Programme.
GRAMS: [‘HOLMES AND WATSON OPENING 1’ by Willy Scott]
ANNOUNCER: We present Sherlock Holmes and John Watson with Gordon Lestrade, Martha Hudson and Billy Page in…
GRAMS: [‘HOLMES AND WATSON OPENING 2’ by Willy Scott]
HOLMES: The Adventure of the Wrong-Headed Blog.
EFFECTS: Establishing sounds. Baker Street buzzing with life, news boys holler, cart wheels clatter. We fade into the contemplative world of 221b, a grandfather clock ticks, a match is struck, pipe tobacco crackles.)
HOLMES: What do I say about David Moore, this giant among men?
WATSON: (STRAINED) You tell him to sit in another chair, the colonial colossus is crushing me to death.
MOORE: Sorry, didn’t see you there.
(MOORE gets up. It sounds like the entire contents of a butcher’s shop being moved three feet to the left where it is dumped on another ungrateful armchair.)
HOLMES: There certainly is plenty of him. Where’s the… what should we call him?
HOLMES: That’s stretching things too far.
HOLMES: No. No. We mustn’t devalue words. That would compound his crime.
HOLMES: Agreed, let us be gracious, he is, after all, a guest.
ADAMS: (MUFFLED) I’m having the will to live squeezed out of me by my editor.
MOORE: Sorry, didn’t see you there.
ADAMS: It’s fine, it wasn’t an entirely new experience.
(MOORE moves to another chair, it explodes in a huff of suicidal leather and oak.)
MOORE: I’m not this massive in real life, why are you being so mean?
ADAMS: You suggested Holmes’ opening line, what else did you expect me to do? Pander to your ego?
MOORE: I think Lydia was just joking.
WATSON: (LIKE A STARVED DOG BEING SHOWN A MAP TO AN ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD Lydia? There’s a woman here?
(There is the rushed sound of suit brushing, splashed cologne and plucked roses.)
HOLMES: Easy Watson, she’s married.
WATSON: Not for long!
HOLMES: She’s the PR for the publisher. She’s the one who asked Adams to write this meandering nonsense.
WATSON: (IMMEDIATELY DEFLATED, HIS COLOGNE EVAPORATES) She works in publishing? (SIGHS) Never mind.
HOLMES: Indeed, she’s taken up residence in the drinks cabinet and is likely no longer capable of coherent conversation.
(EFFECTS: HOLMES opens the drinks cabinet, there is the sound of raucous German Beer Hall dancing, he immediately slams the door shut again.)
HOLMES: A sight beyond words. I will never be able to enjoy walnuts again. Do pass me that padlock, WATSON, for all our sakes.
(EFFECTS: HOLMES chains up the drinks cabinet.)
HOLMES: So gentlemen, other than incarcerating your inebriated staff, what can we do for you?
MOORE: We were hoping you’d help promote the new book I’ve edited. It’s called Two Hundred and Twenty One Baker Streets and it’s an anthology of Holmesian tales across time and space. A selection of stories offering an unusual take on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
WATSON: Two hundred and twenty one of them?
WATSON: Two hundred and twenty one stories?
MOORE: Erm… no. There’s fourteen actually. From people like Adrian…
WATSON: Then it should be called Fourteen Baker Streets shouldn’t it?
MOORE: Ha! (OFFERS THE SORT OF LAUGHTER PEOPLE EMPLOY WHEN THEY’RE BUSILY TRYING NOT TO PUNCH PEOPLE). That doesn’t sound quite as good.
WATSON: But it would have been more accurate.
MOORE: I don’t think people would expect there to be that many stories.
WATSON: Unless they’d read the title.
MOORE: Even then. As I say, we have writers like Adrian…
WATSON: I suppose it would be bad for the wrist.
MOORE: I’m sorry?
WATSON: A book containing two hundred and twenty one stories. Nobody wants to publish a book that makes reader’s wrists ache.
ADAMS: I don’t know, I’ve enjoyed a few in my time…
HOLMES: I fear we’re straying off the point a little.
WATSON: I suppose you could do two hundred and twenty one extremely short stories.
MOORE: Much better to do fourteen really good, satisfying stories, from people like Adrian…
WATSON: “Once upon a time there was a small duck called Sherlock Holmes and he lived on the river with his friend John Watson, an otter.”
MOORE: There are no otters in our book.
WATSON: Don’t blame me. “One day Holmes the duck found the body of a dead moor hen. “Curious!” he quacked, “someone’s killed this moor hen.”
MOORE: Yeah, that’s not really the sort of thing…
WATSON: “It was me Holmes!” cried John Watson the naughty otter, “I stabbed him with this sharpened reed.”
MOORE: Not much of a mystery is it?
WATSON: Shows what you know. It’s brilliant and intriguing. WHY did the otter kill the moor hen?
ADAMS: Because he really hated the pompous, quacking git?
WATSON: Perhaps the otter and the duck could plunge off a weir at the end.
MOORE: Why would they do that?
WATSON: It’s worked before. Drama. Self sacrifice. The noble duck sacrificing himself to rid the world of this bastard of an otter.
(EFFECTS: A loud crashing sound. MOORE has left the room, taking most of a wall with him.)
HOLMES: If you’re going to storm out, Mr Moore, might I ask that you stoop when you negotiate the doors?
(EFFECTS: A distant crash followed by the sound of screams and veering carriages as the behemoth MOORE attempts to navigate the street outside. Eventually the chaos subsides.)
HOLMES: What are we going to do with the sauced-up loon in our drinks cabinet? I was hoping he was going to take her with him.
WATSON: More to the point, why is this entire thing written like a particularly stupid radio programme?
ADAMS: That’s my fault I’m afraid. In my story Holmes and Watson are actors, comedians who play the characters we know from Doyle’s original stories as part of a long-running radio comedy series.
ADAMS: I know. It’s actually a far more serious story than this old waffle would suggest but, you know, guest blogs… always hard to think of something to do.
(EFFECTS: The rattle of a chain as ADAMS unlocks the drinks cabinet.)
ADAMS: I’ll be in here if anyone needs me.
(EFFECTS: A burst of German Beer Hall music stifled as ADAMS closes the door behind him.)
WATSON: A brave man. So what do we do now? This has gone on far too long as it is.
HOLMES: (RE-LIGHTING HIS PIPE) Tell me more about this naughty otter.
WATSON: Well! He is the Napoleon of River Based crime! He strikes fear into the hearts of badger and water boatman alike…
(EFFECTS: We fade out on their conversation, moving outside to where the screaming continues as MOORE makes his slow way back to his Oxford office, muttering to himself about the perils of working with stupid authors.)
MUSIC: [‘HOLMES AND WATSON CLOSE’ by Willy Scott.]
Guy Adams (guyadamsauthor.com) has written far too many books. In recent years these have included: the Heaven’s Gate Trilogy for Solaris; the Deadbeat books for Titan and the Clown Service series for Del Rey UK.
He has, as yet, not written far too many comics but he’s working on it: he’s written a number of strips for 2000 AD including a reinvention of Grant Morrison’s Ulysses Sweet: Maniac for Hire, scripted The Engine for Madefire and is the co-creator of Goldtiger with artist Jimmy Broxton.
A lifelong fan of Sherlock Holmes (once playing him, rather badly on stage) he has written two original novels, The Breath of God and The Army of Dr Moreau, as well as a couple of non-fiction books.
He is the author of A Study in Scarborough in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!