Adaptations of mystery stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle's contemporary rivals in the genre.

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1973   1971  
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Series cast summary:
 Martin Hewitt (2 episodes, 1971)
 Horace Dorrington (2 episodes, 1971)
Douglas Wilmer ...
 Prof. Van Dusen (2 episodes, 1973)
Ronald Hines ...
 Jonathan Pryde (2 episodes, 1971)
Cyd Hayman ...
 Laura Stanley / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Derek Smith ...
 Henry Jacobs / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
 Farrish (2 episodes, 1971)
Petronella Barker ...
 Miss Parrot (2 episodes, 1971)
 Admiral Christador / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Charles Lloyd Pack ...
 Judge / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
James Cairncross ...
 Briggs / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Paul Whitsun-Jones ...
 Fat man / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Robert Hartley ...
 Doctor / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Edward Dentith ...
 Sir Edward Markham / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Clifford Parrish ...
 Dr. Ewing / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Michael Cashman ...
 Asst. Purser Robbins / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
John Dawson ...
 Insp. Fullalove / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
 Jeweller / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Barry Ashton ...
 Buller's bank clerk / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Joe Dunlop ...
 P.C. Oates / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Maurice Quick ...
 The Magistrate / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
 Mr. Drew / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1973)
Susanna East ...
 Girl (2 episodes, 1971-1973)


This British TV series, shot almost entirely on videotape, dramatized short mystery fiction by authors who were contemporaries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Many of these authors were virtually unknown to modern audiences, although all of the detectives portrayed had appeared in popular ongoing series of short stories or novels. "Rivals" featured the only dramatizations to date of such period characters as Jacques Futrelle's "The Thinking Machine" and W. H. Hodgson's "Carnacki The Ghost Finder". Production values were high, although the limitations of early '70's video technology are painfully obvious. The casts included the cream of British television's character actors, featuring a few faces that will be recognizable to American audiences. Written by Doug Ferrar <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

20 September 1971 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Los rivales de Sherlock Holmes  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(26 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This series gave rise to a spinoff book of the same title, a collection of some of the short stories which had been adapted. The book was edited by Hugh Greene, the series creator, a former Director General of the BBC and the brother of Graham Greene. See more »

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User Reviews

These are really good - and now on DVD!
8 July 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It is so easy to look back and say we had higher standards of television years ago but this series goes a long way to proving the point. When they were originally broadcast these programmes went out at 9.00 on Monday evening following a current affairs documentary "World In Action" - very often a controversial and downright bloody-minded look at national and international politics. In the same slots today we have a half-hour soap opera followed by a series about a PA in a supermarket chain, coping with her employer relocating its head office.

These programmes are literate and don't betray their literary origins. The scripts are full of period flavour, take their time to develop plot and character, and give the actors plenty to work with. And what actors: John Neville, Robert Stephens, Peter Barkworth and Peter Vaughan to name a few of the leads; character actors of the quality of Terence Rigby and George A. Cooper turn up in supporting roles.

The production values are very high, too, with richly decorated Victorian settings. The BBC has always set the benchmark for period drama in the UK but Thames gave them a run for their money here and were rewarded with a Best Design BAFTA in 1972.

If you enjoy period detective work but you are suffering from Holmes fatigue you could do far worse than invest in these for your DVD player

  • theowinthrop, please note!

23 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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