When a notorious retired builder is found dead, his recently-named heir is the prime suspect.


Ken Grieve


Arthur Conan Doyle (short story "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" from volume "The Return of Sherlock Holmes") (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), John Hawkesworth (developer) | 1 more credit »




Episode complete credited cast:
Jeremy Brett ... Sherlock Holmes
David Burke ... Dr. John Watson
Rosalie Crutchley ... Mrs Lexington
Colin Jeavons ... Lestrade
Matthew Solon Matthew Solon ... John Hector McFarlane
Jonathan Adams ... Jonas Oldacre
Helen Ryan ... Mrs McFarlane
Rosalie Williams ... Mrs Hudson
Andy Rashleigh ... Constable
Anthony Langdon ... Tramp
Ted Carroll ... Seafaring Tramp


Knowing that he is about to be arrested for murder, John Hector McFarlane asks for Sherlock Holmes' assistance in establishing his innocence. McFarlane is a solicitor who was visited the previous day by Jonas Oldacre who wanted to draw up a will. McFarlane was astonished to learn that Oldacre was naming him as the beneficiary of his fortune. McFarlane had never met the man who claimed to have known his parents long ago and having no issue of his own, wanted to leave everything to him. McFarlane drew up the papers and called at Oldacre's home that evening to have everything signed but sometime in the night the man was killed and the body burned beyond all recognition. Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard thinks he has an open and shut case but after Holmes interviews McFarlane's mother, he thinks there is something else afoot. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery




Official Sites:

Official site [France]





Release Date:

8 September 1985 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Granada Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Most of the episode is set at Oldacre's home. One property was used extensively for filming: the interior, exterior, garden, driveway and road outside. It was Beech Mount, Bowdon Road, Altrincham, Greater Manchester. See more »


When Holmes is explaining the murder of the old sailor he produces what he calls a Great White shark tooth as evidence. The tooth actually belongs to a Sperm whale. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. John Watson: Thank you, George.
Sherlock Holmes: From the point of view of the criminal expert, London has become a singularly uninteresting city.
Dr. John Watson: Well, I hardly think you'll find many decent citizens to agree with you.
Sherlock Holmes: Well, well, well, one must not be selfish. The community's the gainer and no-one the loser, save the poor unfortunate specialist whose occupation has gone.
See more »


Version of The Norwood Builder (1922) See more »

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User Reviews

Holmes the Magician: perhaps the best of the series
21 March 2009 | by trimmerb1234See all my reviews

The Norwood Builder was a neat and intriguing story however in some ways - without extravagant settings, The Nation In Danger or grand international villains - a plain one. There appears to be less to work with. But this immaculate production instead so nicely takes us through a series of different moods as the story unfolds: Holme's restrained powerful dislike of Lestrade's provocative condescension, the latter's premature triumphalism, Holme's near despair and fear that his failure will result in an innocent man going to the gallows. But finally when all appears lost, a genuinely jaw-dropping ending when Holmes, the master magician, is able to once again summon all his powers and conjure up, to the amazement of Lestrade and viewer alike, the villain in a puff of smoke. Holmes' magnanimity in allowing Lestrade the entire credit is a stylish conclusion. The production gives us not just a clever Holmes but a completely masterly one.

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