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The Illustrious Client 

Violet Merville is determined to marry the man she loves, who Holmes knows has already murdered one wife.


Tim Sullivan


Arthur Conan Doyle (by) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Robin Chapman (dramatised by)




Episode complete credited cast:
Jeremy Brett ... Sherlock Holmes
Edward Hardwicke ... Dr. Watson
Anthony Valentine ... Baron Gruner
Carol Noakes Carol Noakes ... Baroness Gruner
David Langton ... Sir James Damery
Abigail Cruttenden Abigail Cruttenden ... Miss Violet Merville
Rosalie Williams ... Mrs. Hudson
John Pickles John Pickles ... Jarvis
Kim Thomson ... Kitty Winter
Roy Holder ... Shinwell Johnson
Andy Bradford ... First Thug


Holmes is hired by Sir James Damery to do anything he can to stop the forthcoming marriage of Violet Merville, daughter of a famed General, to Baron Gruner, a known philanderer and womanizer who has been known to seduce - and perhaps even dispose of - well-to-do women on the Continent. The young woman is madly in love with him and will hear nothing against him. It's also apparent that Sir James is acting as an intermediary for someone else, whom he refuses to reveal. The Baron is soon onto Holmes' attempt to discredit him and he is not above hiring ruffians to get rid of troublemakers. Homes recruits one of the Baron's discarded women to try and convince Miss Merville of her ill-advised romance but it is only when he learns that Gruner has a diary does he find the weapon he needs. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 March 1991 (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?


Repeated references are made to "oil of vitriol." This is the old name for sulfuric acid, in this case thrown in the faces of women to disfigure them. See more »


In one scene, Baron Gruner is listening to a recording of a baritone singing the "Madamina" aria from Mozart's "Don Giovanni", and the singer is backed by a full orchestra. Such recordings were impossible to make in the nineteenth century, when the story takes place. Until the advent of electrical recording (i.e., using microphones) in 1925, singers and instrumentalists had to stand around a large horn to make recordings, and the use of a large orchestra would have distorted the sound. Special "chamber music" arrangements had to be made of orchestral pieces to prevent distortion and overload. Recordings were made on wax cylinders then, not discs, and the quality of sound was far worse than demonstrated in this episode. See more »


[first lines]
Baron Gruner: Oh. Oh, my dear. My dearest. I warned you; I said, "Do not go too near the edge."
Baroness Gruner: Why did you push me, Baron?
Baron Gruner: My dear wife... you, you're dreaming.
Baroness Gruner: No. Dying. Dying.
Baron Gruner: Oh, my darling.
See more »


Version of Sherlock Holmes: The Illustrious Client (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

Clever reference to Browning "My Last Duchess"
23 July 2010 | by sissoedSee all my reviews

All of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes stories are worth watching, but this particular story is weaker than most -- his goal is to keep a deluded young woman from marrying a dastardly Baron.

The reason I leave this note is to note a clever bit in the beginning. In the first scene that shows the Baron together with the young woman, they are in his study. Over the mantle-piece is an oil portrait of the Baron.

"Who painted it?" asks the woman.

"Claus of Innsbruck" answers the Baron, and he adds, as he strokes a bronze sculpture on the desk, "Claus also did this sculpture."

This is a clever contribution by the screenwriter, because "Claus of Innsbruck," a fictional character, is the painter of the portrait in the famous poem by Browning, "My Last Duchess." The speaker in the poem is a cold-hearted nobleman who crushes the spirit of his wife (the last duchess) because it does not please him that she is so joyful. The speaker mentions that "Claus" not only did the portrait for him, but also a fine bronze sculpture for him. The screenwriter thus shows that the Baron in this episode is a heartless noble on a par with the noble in Browning's poem -- reference that will be caught only by viewers who also know Browning.

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