The Return of Sherlock Holmes: Season 1, Episode 4

The Second Stain (23 Jul. 1986)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 292 users  
Reviews: 7 user

Holmes is asked by the country's Prime Minister to aid in the recovery of a stolen diplomatic letter, which, if published, might lead England into war.



(by) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) , (developed for television by), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Second Stain (23 Jul 1986)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Colin Jeavons ...
Sean Scanlan ...
Constable MacPherson
Yves Beneyton ...
Yvonne Orengo ...
Rosalie Williams ...
Alan Bennion ...


Holmes receives a surprise visit from no less than the Prime Minister and the country's chief foreign diplomat, Lord Trelawney Hope. They ask his assistance in the recovery of a sensitive diplomatic letter stolen mysteriously from the Lord's home. Its contents are so incendiary that they might lead Great Britain into war if they were published. Holmes credits only three active criminals capable of masterminding so audacious a theft, and when one is found stabbed to death on the night in question, The Great Detective correctly surmises that it is not a coincidence. Matters are further complicated by a visit to Baker Street by Lady Trelawney Hope, a visit she wants kept from her husband. Written by Gabe Taverney (

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

23 July 1986 (UK)  »

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[first lines]
Dr. Watson: [narration] One Tuesday morning in autumn at precisely half past eight, Sherlock Holmes received a mysterious message that two men of great public distinction would be visiting Baker Street in their private capacity and under circumstances of complete secrecy.
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Version of Sherlock Holmes: The Second Stain (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

A very good and interesting episode
22 May 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Since I was 14, I have loved Sherlock Holmes, the stories, the Basil Rathbone adaptations and especially the Granada adaptations. The Second Stain is not one of my favourites of Return of Sherlock Holmes..., my favourite(excluding Sign of Four and Hound of the Baskervilles, though they would be among the favourites as well) is The Devil's Foot, closely followed by The Red-Headed League. However, despite a slightly dull beginning it is well worth watching. Although the premise is well-worn and not always exciting, the pace from the 25 minute mark does liven up considerably and the solution is clever. I do enjoy the whole rapport between Holmes, Watson and Lestrade also. The episode looks splendid as the series always did, with everything meticulous and very evocative. The music is both haunting and beautiful, and the writing maintains your attention throughout. The acting is great, Harry Andrews is good if not at his best, but Colin Jeavons is an amusing Lestrade and Patricia Hodge is at her most elegant and captivating. Edward Hardwicke is a quietly intelligent and thoughtful Watson, but Jeremy Brett's commanding Holmes is the main attraction here. In conclusion, interesting and very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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