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) | 1 more credit »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Sean Scanlan ...
Constable MacPherson
Yves Beneyton ...
Yvonne Orengo ...
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 (duke1029@aol.com)

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Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 July 1986 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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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 The Second Stain (1922) See more »

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An Indiscretion That Could Lead To War
23 January 2010 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In The Second Stain Sherlock Holmes gets a client no less important than the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom himself. With full beard Harry Andrews as the Prime Minister does look remarkably like the real Prime Minister in those times, Lord Salisbury though that is not Andrews's name in the short story by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Involved in the affair is a junior minister played here by Stuart Wilson in whose hands a confidential letter from a foreign ruler to Queen Victoria was entrusted. Apparently this ruler wrote some really horrid stuff about Great Britain and should the contents get out, it might lead to war. Of course it's open to speculation as to who Conan Doyle might have had in mind, but I'm thinking it could have been the Kaiser in Germany. Wilhelm II was a most impulsive fellow and this sounds like just the kind of impulsive note one might write to a grandmother.

Two things happen to Holmes that lead to a rather subdued solution to what could be a high affair of state. The first is that a well known trader in international secrets gets murdered. The other is a visit by Wilson's wife, Patricia Hodge inquiring of Holmes why her husband and the Prime Minister should be seeking his services.

In American history two such purloined letters of indiscretion figured prominently in two American wars. The first was the DeLome letter written by the Spanish Ambassador to the USA, criticizing America in general and making some not very flattering references to our president of the time, William McKinley right before The Spanish American War. The second was the Zimmerman Note in which the Germans make an offer to the Mexicans to come into World War I on the Central Powers side and they can get back what we took in the Mexican Cession back in the day. In both cases these letters wound up in our yellow press and Andrews as Prime Minister is concerned with good reason that it doesn't wind up in their scandal sheets.

I have to say the ending is a bit of let down. And talk about cover-up. But you'll have to see the mystery to know what I'm talking about.

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