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Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes (1964)
Douglas Wilmer (The Lyceum Theatre, 2000) was introduced to Sherlock Holmes by a Swiss landlady in Rugby, England.  She asked him if he had ever read Sherlock Holmes, and she dumped a pile of Holmes books on his bed.  He became “rather enthralled.” Years later (1964-1965), he played Holmes on television, a role for which he is best known.  Douglas Wilmer was born on January 8, 1920 and passed away on March 31, 2016.

Douglas was a talented and prolific actor. He had 99 film and television credits and uncounted stage credits. His acting career spanned from around 1935 to 2014.  His Sherlockian roles include Detective (TV Series, 1964, Sherlock Holmes), Sherlock Holmes (TV Series, 1964-1965, Sherlock Holmes), The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (TV Series, 1973, Prof. Van Dusen), The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (Movie, 1975, Sherlock Holmes), BBC Sherlock (TV Series, 2014, Diogenes Club Member).

In this interview, Douglas recounts the past under Nicholas Utechin’s expert questioning, responding with his typical self-deprecatory humor and candor.

Douglas Wilmer at the 2000 BSI Dinner
Douglas Wilmer at the 2000 BSI Dinner

Click to play this interview

Interviewee: Douglas Wilmer
Interviewer: Nicholas Utechin
Date: January 22, 2015
Location: Woodbridge, Suffolk, England
Description: Pt.1 MP3, 46.7 MB, 85kbps, 1 hour 17 minutes

Interview Topics

Living in Shanghai
English Board School
Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
The War Years
Introduction to Sherlock Holmes
Playing Sherlock Holmes
Standing up for Conan Doyle
El Cid
Stage Whispers (his memoirs)
Thoughts on his Career
BBC Sherlock
Jeremy Brett
On Acting
A Remarkable Lady

Explanation of BSI Honours & Other Terms

Related Materials

Douglas Wilmer in BBC Sherlock (2014) wearing the BSI Bowtie
Douglas Wilmer, wearing the BSI Bowtie, as a member of the Diogenes Club 
in the BBC Sherlock episode “The Reichenbach Fall”

McCafferty, Elaine and Jonathan, eds.,“The Only Actor Who Ever Got It Right - Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes,” The Baker Street Journal 2014 Christmas Annual.

Douglas Wilmer (The Sherlock Holmes Society of London website)

Clark, Andrew, “A life in the spotlight,” (East Anglian Daily Times, April 30, 2009)

Potter, Tom, “Woodbridge: Sherlock of the sixties discusses famous Holmes role,” (East Anglian Daily Times, January 6, 2014)

Internet Movie Database page on Douglas Wilmer

Wikipedia page on Douglas Wilmer

For an index to all OHP interviews, see our Oral History Project Summary list.

Interviews recently added online (sorted by when recording was posted online)

Material in the BSI Archive may be used by any qualified scholar, subject to the normal rules and regulations of the library. For links to a detailed finding aid and related information, see our BSI Archive page.

Page composed on 5/28/16 by Andrew Solberg
This page last updated 5/28/16 by Andrew Solberg.