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Baker Street Wiki

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a radio drama series which aired in the USA from 1939 to 1950, it ran for 374 episodes, with many of the later episodes considered lost media. The series was based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Some of the surviving episode recordings may be found online, in various audio quality condition.

For most of the show's run, the program starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. Other actors played Holmes and Watson in later seasons.


From the outset of the show, the series was billed in different listings under various titles including Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, and other titles. The most popularly remembered title is The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

From 1939 until 1943, episodes were adapted or written by Edith Meiser who had written the earlier series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which aired from 1930 to 1935. Meiser left the show after disagreements with a sponsor over the amount of violence in the program. It is also reported that Meiser left the show to focus on other projects. From 1943 onward, most episodes were written by the team of Denis Green and Anthony Boucher with some early episodes written by Green and Leslie Charteris. Edith Meiser returned to write for the show for its seventh season. Max Ehrlich and Howard Merrill wrote the episodes of season 8. Denis Green returned as a writer for the last season.

Originally, the show starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. Together, they starred in 220 episodes which aired weekly on Mondays from 8:30 to 9:00pm. Basil Rathbone's last episode as the famous detective was "The Singular Affair of the Baconian Cipher". He was eager to separate himself from the show to avoid being typecast in the role. Tom Conway replaced him in the starring role, though Nigel Bruce got top billing and was always announced first. The new series lasted 39 episodes, and Bruce and Conway then left the series. From then until 1950 the series continued with various actors playing the two principal parts.

The show first aired on the Blue Network but later moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System. The show moved to Mutual in 1943 at the start of its fourth season. The series was originally broadcast from Hollywood. During World War II, the show was also broadcast overseas through the Armed Forces Radio Service. The program aired on ABC instead of Mutual for its sixth and ninth seasons.

Many episodes were recorded in front of a live audience.


Sherlock Holmes:

  • Basil Rathbone (1939–1946)
  • Tom Conway (1947)
  • John Stanley (1947–1949)
  • Ben Wright (1947 (stand in for Tom Conway), 1949–1950 (regular))

Dr. Watson:

  • Nigel Bruce (1939–1947)
  • Joseph Kearns (1946, stand in for Nigel Bruce)
  • Alfred Shirley (1947–1948)
  • Ian Martin (1948)
  • Wendell Holmes (credited as "George Spelvin") (1948–1949)
  • Eric Snowden (1946 (stand in for Nigel Bruce), 1949–1950 (regular))

There is only a limited amount of information available about additional cast members, since complete cast lists are available only for a handful of episodes. In multiple episodes, Mary Gordon played Mrs. Hudson, a role she also played in the 1939–1946 Sherlock Holmes film series featuring Rathbone and Bruce. Professor Moriarty was played by multiple actors in the radio series, including Joseph Kearns (who also played Watson) and Lou Merrill.

Frederick Worlock played Inspector Lestrade in at least three known episodes. Worlock also played different roles in multiple films in the 1939–1946 film series, such as the role of Geoffrey Musgrave in Sherlock Holmes Faces Death. Lestrade was played by Bernard Lenrow in the seventh season and Horace Braham in the eighth season. Rex Evans played Mycroft Holmes in at least two known episodes. Evans played an assassin in the Sherlock Holmes film Pursuit to Algiers.

In each episode, the announcer would be presented as arriving at the home of Dr. Watson, then retired, who would share a story about Holmes and his adventures. The announcer for the first three seasons of the show was Knox Manning. In various episodes of the fourth season, the announcers were Owen Babbe, Marx Hartman, and Bob Campbell. Harry Bartell became the announcer for the fifth season. The announcer for the sixth season was Joseph Bell. Bell had previously been the announcer for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Cy Harrice took over the role for the seventh and eighth seasons. Herb Allen was the announcer for the ninth season.

Actors who performed in multiple roles on the show include Verna Felton, Paula Winslowe, Carl Harbord (who also played Inspector Hopkins in the Sherlock Holmes film Dressed to Kill), Herbert Rawlinson, Paul Frees, Theodore von Eltz, and June Foray.


The show's announcer acted as the spokesman for the sponsor. Grove's Bromo Quinine sponsored the show for the first three seasons. Petri Wine was the sponsor for the fourth and fifth seasons. Petri Wine stopped sponsoring the show after the end of the fifth season. While Rathbone left the show at the same time, the reason Petri ceased their sponsorship was unconnected to Rathbone's departure according to one source, which states that the decision was made because it was more affordable for Petri to sponsor the radio series The Casebook of Gregory Hood instead.

The sponsor for the series was Kreml Hair Tonic for the show's sixth season, and the Trimount Clothing Co. for the seventh season. Trimount renewed their sponsorship for the eighth season. Petri Wine returned as the sponsor for the ninth season. By May 1950, it was confirmed that Petri did not plan to renew their sponsorship if the series continued.