Touring Baker Street with Vincent Price

"Well, tonight it's back to Baker Street. Back to that unlikely London of the nineteenth century where high adventure awaits all who would seek it, in a hansom cab or under a gas lamp in an Inverness cape."

Normally, I blaze across the pages of any detective novel that stands in my way, and even a brush with a 400-page behemoth, whose sheets are covered with turgid prose, hardly effect my pace, but somehow I was thrown off my game this week – and have been trotting through Freeman's The Stoneware Monkey (1939), without reaching the final chapter, for over three days now! Social obligations also make it unlikely that I will arrive there before Thursday; however, this provides me with an opportunity to post this filler recent discovery.

Back in the 1980s, the incomparable Vincent Price guest hosted a television show, in which he introduced the viewers at home to a new Sherlock Holmes episode, starring Jeremy Brett as the maverick detective from Baker Street, and closed the hour with a final thought – which are minor gems and usually very insightful. It's also a delight to hear him cite Ellery Queen as a source when introducing Silver Blaze as one of the finest sports detective yarn ever written. They can be found scattered all over YouTube, but here you can have a peek at his opening and closing statements regarding a personal favorite of mine, The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual. Take note of the brilliant, second part of the video! 


  1. I've been fascinated in recent years to see these introductions. When the episodes were originally broadcast in Britain they were simply shown without comment. They had a good prime-time slot, and nice write-ups in the newspapers, but they were not seen as being different from any other popular programmes on TV at the time.

    The Price intros are lovely, but did treating the shows in this reverential manner have an influence on the way that audiences responded? In the UK a lot of people who wouldn't normally have been fans of the genre were drawn to it because they came across the show and loved it. I wonder if the evening dress, and well stuffed leather armchair approach put off some viewers. I don't really have any strong feelings about this, but I would be interested to hear what everyone else thinks.

  2. The combination Vincent Price + Baker Street will always add up to this in my head.

  3. Ho-Ling, I was actually planning to take a look at that film...

    Thanks for the find! Vincent Price is just wonderful.

  4. @Sexton Blake

    Naturally, I've never seen the original broadcasts, but I doubt they had a negative impact, if any, on casual viewers and were a neat little extra for devoted fans – and who could possibly object to Vincent Price eruditely talking about Sherlock Holmes? The stuffy armchair, rundown décor and dress also seems to be his natural habitat. :)


    Price voicing Ratigan is the best part of that movie, and there's a interview floating on YouTube in which he proudly shows off a statuette of the character – a present he received from the people at Disney.

  5. MYSTERY! was a public TV show in the US. There's a big difference between public TV and commercial TV over here. When this was first aired in the early 1980s there was still a reverence for anything that was televised literature. In fact MYSTERY! was basically a Masterpiece Theater spin-off, The entire show was modeled on Masterpiece Theater which is why there are informative intros and epilogues at the end. Alistair Cooke, the host of Masterpiece Theater, sat in a comfy armchair and gave interesting literary and historical tidbits about the author and the book each week just as Price does with these mystery stories and novels. It was expected, in a way, if you did an anthology series of adapted works of fiction to have this kind of format on public TV. Masterpiece Theater is an iconic American program and so many other shows borrowed its format. It's been lampooned hundreds of times on American TV comedy shows, too, for its reverent approach to televising dramatized literature.

    I've never heard Vincent Price sing. That was great! I've heard him rap, of course, on "Thriller" but that's not the same. He can carry a tune a little better than Rex Harrison. THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE may contain his only singing performance. Thanks for that clip, Ho-Ling.