52 episodes of the Old Time Radio program, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The show, which aired from 1939-1946, starred the great Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson.

For an entire generation of movie-goers and radio-listeners, the definitive Holmes and Watson were Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, two English actors based in Hollywood throughout the silver screen era. Starring in no fewer than fourteen films and almost two hundred radio plays between 1939 and 1946, the two actors are easy to mock in our postmodern age. Rathbone’s clipped and laconic style of speaking and Bruce’s portrayal of Watson as a bumbling fool are very out of fashion, and there’s no question that the films and the radio plays haven’t always aged particularly well. But while I’ll leave it to others to critique the films, I do think the radio plays deserve to be listened to, and the better ones unquestionably add something to the Holmes canon that anyone with even a slight interest in the genre can enjoy.

All told, 54 episodes have survived from the 200-odd produced, though the quality of the recordings varies. Cranked out weekly with little time for rehearsals, fluffed lines can be heard now and again, but in other regards these were originally quite high quality productions. Given the nature of the format, sound effects played a particularly important role, and one of the engaging things about radio shows from this era was how cleverly they recreated settings as diverse as English villages, Tibetan monasteries and Viennese palaces!