Sherlock Holmes

Who is the most famous fictional detective to have roamed the streets of London? Join Wendy as she learns about Sherlock Holmes.

Watch the video. Then go to Task and do the activities. If you need help, you can read the Transcript at any time.


Think about the following questions:

  • Why do you think so many people enjoy mystery novels and films?
  • Who is your favourite detective?

Join Wendy as she learns more about Sherlock Holmes.


Wendy: The streets of London are full of history. But not all the famous characters associated with this city were real. More than a hundred years ago when people travelled by horse and cart and the foggy streets were lit by gaslight, one famous detective was leading the fight against crime. It was Victorian London, the time of Sherlock Holmes.

The fictional character of Sherlock Holmes has been popular ever since he was created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 1800s. Since then, Holmes has appeared in many films…

Roland Carstairs: Mr Holmes?

Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone): Hello.

Wendy: …from black-and-white classics to Hollywood blockbusters and TV dramas.
Even though Sherlock Holmes wasn’t a real person, you can find evidence of him all over London. There is a statue of Sherlock Holmes near Baker Street. Just around the corner, you can find his famous address, 221B. Ah, look! More evidence of Sherlock Holmes, a pub named after him. Let’s pop in.

There are lots of Sherlock-related things inside the pub. The pub even has its own room which is supposed to look like Sherlock Holmes’ study with his famous pipe and laboratory instruments for his forensic or scientific approach to solving crimes. You can just imagine Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Doctor Watson discussing how to solve crimes here.

Dr Watson (Nigel Bruce): Well, whoever’s behind all this thing must be out of his mind.

Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone): On the contrary, my dear fellow. If my assumptions are correct, this little scheme has behind it the most brilliant and ruthless intellect the world has ever known.

Wendy: Roger Johnson is from the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.

What makes Sherlock Holmes so interesting?

Roger: He’s a hero, but he’s a flawed hero in a way. He doesn’t have superpowers in the way that, say, Superman does or the Marvel Avengers. He’s a real human being and you can feel with Sherlock Holmes as you can’t do with Superman, ‘Yeah, I could be like that’.

Wendy: Why is he still so popular?

Roger: The main reason is that the original stories are so good. They’re very well written and they’re tremendous fun to read.

Wendy: The Metropolitan Police Heritage Museum shows the history of policing in London. Holmes was famous for his use of forensic or scientific techniques to solve crimes. His creator, Conan Doyle, visited police museums to gain inspiration for his stories. Alan Moss is a former policeman and historian.

Do you think it was useful for Conan Doyle to visit places like this?

Alan: He was really interested in real-life crimes, but actually making those crimes into a really good story.

Wendy: Police methods and crime-solving techniques have changed since the time of Sherlock Holmes. New technology means the scientific or forensic method is even more important.

So there’s evidence of Sherlock Holmes all across London. It looks like he’s going to continue being a popular fictional character for many more years to come. I wonder what Sherlock would make of today’s forensic work and policing techniques. I guess we’ll never know.

Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

Language level

Submitted by parisaach on Sun, 29/12/2019 - 04:31

I think Jeremy Brette is the best actor who plays as Sherlock Holmes

Submitted by Kostya B on Sun, 24/06/2018 - 19:49

Because it is interesting when during the story occur something enigmatic and after that follows investigation leading to a denouement. I did not take much interest in any detective stories and therefore I have not any favorite characters.

Submitted by ACavicchiolo on Wed, 31/01/2018 - 16:05

Greetings! Could someone tells me how can I download the video? Thank you already!

Hello ACavicchiolo,

I'm afraid our videos are not available for download -- sorry! All of our audio resources (e.g. LearnEnglish Podcasts and Big City Small World) are, in contrast, available for free download.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nizam Balinese on Sun, 16/04/2017 - 11:57

Hello, Team. "Who is the most famous fictional detective to have roamed the street of London?" What is the consideration you used a 'to' instead of 'who' or 'that' in the sentence above? Could you please, explain? Thank you.

Hello Nizam,

This is one particular construction that uses the infinitive, but you could certainly say something similar by using a relative pronoun such as 'who' or 'that'. Though in that case you'd have to use a verb form that agrees with the relative pronoun, e.g. 'who has roamed' or 'who roamed'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Submitted by shokouh.p on Wed, 05/04/2017 - 08:22

Come on! You forgot to add footage from the most brilliant and original-like Sherlock Holmes of all times, Jeremy Brett. Compared to him, the other faces are like failed tries! Watch him here: