Saturday, March 7, 2015

BBC Sherlock "A Scandal in Belgravia" - Canonical References [Part II]

Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock deerstalker hat BBC Holmes

Dear Readers,

This post concludes the list of Canonical References in A Scandal in Belgravia. 

Scripted by Steven Moffat, it is based on the original story: A Scandal in Bohemia.  Here are the references to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories:

1. John questions Sherlock: “You composing?” and he replies: “..helps me to think” - In the original story, The Adventure of the Red-Headed League: “I observe that there is a good deal of German music on the programme, which is rather more to my taste than Italian or French. It is introspective, and I want to introspect.”.

2. John’s lack of knowledge about Sherlock’ personal life is reflected in the question he poses to Mrs Hudson: “Has he ever had any kind of relationship, a boyfriend, girlfriend…” - Dr John Watson mentions in The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter: “During my long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Sherlock Holmes I had never heard him refer to his relations, and hardly ever to his own early life.”

3. John remarks about Sherlock: “He is Mr Punchline. He will outlive God trying to have the last word” – In The Adventure of the Red-headed League, when Dr Watson expresses his doubt about Sherlock's proposition, Holmes replies: “You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be right.” 

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4. Sherlock deduces the presence of Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) based on her perfume – Sherlock Holmes states in The Hound of the Baskervilles: “There are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended upon their prompt recognition.”

5. Sherlock solves the cryptogram in 4 seconds – Sherlock Holmes remarks in The Valley of Fear: “Because there are many ciphers which I would read as easily as I do the apocrypha of the agony column: such crude devices amuse the intelligence without fatiguing it.”

6. Moriarty’s text to Mycroft: “Jumbo Jet. Dear me Mr Holmes, dear me” – Direct reference to this note sent by Professor Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes in The Valley of Fear: “Dear me, Mr. Holmes. Dear me!”

Lara Pulver Irene Adler BBC Sherlock A Scandal in Belgravia

7. At 221 B Baker Street, Sherlock does not notice that Watson is gone and that Irene is now in the room – In A Study in Scarlet, Dr John Watson writes about Sherlock Holmes: “So engrossed was he with his occupation that he appeared to have forgotten our presence, for he chattered away to himself under his breath the whole time, keeping up a running fire of exclamations, groans, whistles, and little cries suggestive of encouragement and of hope.”

8. Sherlock remarks: “Coventry all over again. The wheel turns. Nothing is ever new” –

Sherlock Holmes mentions in The Valley of Fear: “The old wheel turns, and the same spoke comes up. It's all been done before, and will be again.”

In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes states: “There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before”

9. Sherlock's advice to Irene: “This is your heart and you should never let it rule your head” - Sherlock Holmes states in The Adventure of the Lion's Mane: “Women have seldom been an attraction to me, for my brain has always governed my heart, ....”

10. Mycroft’s observation about Sherlock: “My brother has the brain of a scientist or a philosopher, yet he elects to be a detective” – Dr John Watson writes about Holmes’ acting skills in A Scandal in Bohemia: “It was not merely that Holmes changed his costume. His expression, his manner, his very soul seemed to vary with every fresh part that he assumed. The stage lost a fine actor, even as science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a specialist in crime.”

11. Sherlock remarks to John: “If it’s about the Leeds triple murder, It was the gardener. Nobody noticed the earring” – Possible reference to The Adventure of the Cardboard Box where earrings played a vital role in solving the mystery.

12. The initial case of the hiker killed by a single blow to the back of his head from a blunt instrument near a body of water - Reference to The Boscombe Valley Mystery in which one Charles McCarthy who was killed by repeated blows to the back of his head from a blunt weapon. His body was found beside the Boscombe pool. (Thanks to Anonymous commenter for pointing this out).

Click here to read the first part of Canonical references.

Feel free to point out any references I might have missed out.

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock.

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Image Sources: BBC Wales, Hartswood Films, Masterpiece Theatre


  1. This ep frustrated me a little, especially the ending with Irene needing rescuing!

    1. Well said, GK. That part unfortunately goes against the Canon. ACD was a feminist and quite ahead of his time. Not sure about Moffat....


  2. I think the boomerang scene was inspired by The Boscombe Valley Mystery, with the two men returning from Australia, and the son being accused of killing his father with a blow to the back of his head next to a body of water.

    1. Excellent catch. I have added it to the post.