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The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes: Part 1 

Arthur Conan Doyle reveals the story behind Sherlock Holmes and his mysteries by telling about Dr. Joseph Bell.


Paul Seed


David Pirie




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ian Richardson ... Dr. Joseph Bell
Sean Wightman Sean Wightman ... Mortuary Clerk
Robin Laing ... Arthur Conan Doyle
Dolly Wells ... Elspeth Scott
Charles Dance ... Sir Henry Carlyle
Ralph Riach Ralph Riach ... The Strand Editor
Aly Bain Aly Bain ... The Fiddler
Andrew John Tait Andrew John Tait ... Eustace Stark
Alan Sinclair Alan Sinclair ... Medical Lecturer
Alec Newman ... Thomas Neill
Tamsin Pike Tamsin Pike ... Sophia
Joel Strachan Joel Strachan ... Crawford
David Walker David Walker ... Baxter (as David MacDowell)
Sarah Collier Sarah Collier ... Mary Doyle
John Bett John Bett ... Charles Doyle


In the tumult that follows his killing off his fictional character Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle reflects on the man who influenced and provided the prototype for the great detective, Dr. Joseph Bell. A professor at the University of Edinburgh medical school where Doyle is a student, Bell is unconventional in his quest for knowledge and uses his skills of perception and observation to interpret events. He also believes that crimes can be solved in the same way as disease can be diagnosed if the same techniques are used. Having solved the murder of a young woman, Bell grants Doyle greater access to his research. This is also a time when women are being admitted to the Medical School for the first time and Doyle has become attracted to a fellow student, Elspeth Scott. Not all of the students and staff are as accepting as Doyle and someone is trying to frighten her and perhaps even do her harm. When Elpseth's sister Lady Sarah Carlisle takes ill, Doyle comes to believe that her ... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He taught him the finer points...of murder!



Official Sites:

murder-rooms.com [UK]





Release Date:

18 May 2000 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(2 parts)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In Doyle's first conversation with Elspeth, she tells him that she's from South Africa. In real life, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first published work of fiction, "The Mystery of Sasassa Valley", was set in South Africa. Citation: Owen Dudley Edwards, "Doyle, Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan (1859-1930)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. See more »


When Sir Henry is confronted about the pills that he gave to Lady Sarah, he takes the box of pills from her. In the next moment, from a different camera angle, Dr. Bell takes the box from Inspector Beecher. See more »


Arthur Conan Doyle: I only wish I'd never met you. He kills her and then escapes and you can do nothing? Your method sir, is a pitiful lie!
Dr. Joseph Bell: No, this is the lie! There is no possible reason for it, no gain, no profit - not even wicked pleasure. And if this is the future Doyle, I reject it - utterly and with contempt!
See more »

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My comments
10 January 2000 | by 99016753See all my reviews

I watched this two part bbc drama and thoroughly enjoyed it. It features on Arthur Conan Doyle's relationship with Dr Joseph Bell (Richardson). Some of the scenes are gruesome. But there is a lot of Holmes background within it. There are 2 main things I will draw your attention to, 1) Doyle gives Richardson his fathers watch to deduce from, this was used by doyle in the Holmes novel "Sign of 4" and 2) in the second part someone gives a girl a box containg a pair of severed ears, this was again used by Doyle in the Holmes short story "The Cardboard Box"

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