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Peter Vaughan , John Neville  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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THE RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, SET 1 + Rivals of Sherlock Holmes: Set 2 + Raffles: Complete Collection
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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Vaughan, John Neville
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: September 1, 2009
  • Run Time: 654 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001V7YZE8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,764 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sherlock Holmes was not the only detective in Victorian London and this classic British mystery series features top-notch adaptations of detective stories from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's contemporaries. Seen on public television in the 1970s, the classic anthology series casts include John Neville (The First Churchills, X-Files), Peter Vaughan (The Remains of the Day), Donald Sinden (Two's Company), Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Blofeld in You Only Live Twice), and Jeremy Irons (Brideshead Revisited) in his first screen appearance. Offering unique insight into Victorian popular culture, intellectual preoccupations, and social ills, these 13 finely crafted mysteries are also fascinating whodunits. Premiered on the ITV Network in the U.K. in 1971.

The other detectives of late Victorian England

Victorian London was a boon for crooks--and a bane for Scotland Yard, whose job it was to thwart crime. In the pages of fiction, the citizens of the capital often turned to private sleuths for redress. But Sherlock Holmes was not the only detective in town. Contemporary writers created an impressive cast of investigators, both amateur and professional, as colorful as the criminals they set out to catch.

Some of the detectives in this classic British series work with the police. Others achieve success in spite of them. And a few even fall under official suspicion themselves. Yet all pit their wits against the best that London’s underworld has to offer in 13 finely crafted mysteries delivered by Britain’s top character actors. Stars include Peter Vaughan (The Remains of the Day), John Neville (The First Churchills), Donald Sinden (Two’s Company), Donald Pleasence (Halloween), and Jeremy Irons (Brideshead Revisited) in his first screen appearance.

As seen on public television.

DVD FEATURES INCLUDE profiles of the rival detectives and their creators.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
All 13 are cleverly written plots in "The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes-Set 1".
Unique mystery stories and appealing sleuth characters. Delightfully detailed late-Victorian sets, both indoors and out. Makes one wish they'd lived in the late 1800s.
Scotland yard gets several famous helpers in catching the crooks. Costuming is richly authentic, for wealthy aristocrats, shopkeepers, and the common folk.
The series has continual top-notch performances of some of the best British actors and actresses of the day.

Bonus: SUBTITLES. Also detailed profiles of all the authors making history with these crime investigators of Victorian days. What a bonus for mystery story readers who would like to continue with these great crime solvers. The bonus material lists the writer's other books/stories.

Episode details with no spoilers:
1. A MESSAGE FROM THE DEEP SEA. Dr. Thorndyke (sleuth creator R. Austen Freeman) using fingerprints and other scientific forensic evidence looks for a replacement to the police quick-suspect decision. Thorough evidence examination at the crime scene is, once and for all-time, proved necessary for justice.

2. THE MISSING WITNESS SENSATION. Max Carados (blind amateur detective created by Ernest Bramah, 1914) gets kidnapped by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He admits to being 'a terrible showoff' with his abilities; even though sightless. With Carrados missing, will his affidavit be enough to convict the Irish murderer? Can he escape?

3. THE AFFAIR OF THE AVALANCHE BICYCLE & TYRE CO. Horace Dorrington (criminal/detective created by Arthur Morrison) is not beyond doing a bit of theft himself and then charging fees to his socialite client. He gets involved in the operations of a new emerging bicycle company.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Series Stands on Its Merits September 14, 2009
"The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Set 1" gives us another classic British mysteries television series, this one featuring the other detectives of Victorian England. These are stories that were initially penned by writers contemporaneous with Arthur Conan Doyle, famed creator of the iconic Holmes: writers who undoubtedly thought: if he can do it, so can I. The entertainment was made by Thames Television, and premiered on the ITV (Independent Television Network) stations in 1971, when it won a BAFTA (British Oscar) for best series design. A second series aired in 1973. The first thirteen episodes now come to us in a box set of four DVDs, running approximately 654 minutes, with subtitles: although the actors so clearly speak the Queen's English, the subtitles are hardly needed.

The series bespeaks the open-handed care with which British TV made these entertainments at that time. Settings, clothing, accessories, sounds, interiors, street scenes and transport are depicted as accurately as they could be. Scenes are filmed lavishly, with many extras, a screen packed full of information. Scripts are intelligently written, and ably acted, featuring several of the stars of the day; support is provided by many contemporary favorites. Some of the episodes are, unfortunately, on the silly, and /or skimpy side - we can blame the original source material for that - but all give us an excellent view of time and place, Victorian era popular culture; the many economic ills of the day.

Among the best-known actors are John Neville (The First Churchills); northern stalwart Peter Vaughan (
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I remember it too.. July 30, 2009
Verified Purchase
I remember watching it in 1975 on PBS. I particularly remember "The Horse Invisible". It's a ghost story, and one of the most frightening that I have ever seen on TV. The other episodes were just as good!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Absolute Gems!
Production, scripts, acting, sets, direction: all coming together in a seemless stream of intelligent entertainment that tickles the who, what, and how with sweet satisfaction. Most of the detectectives; besides being observant, intuitive, and with gifted acumens of human nature, find when summing the case up: stepping outside, around, or boldly, across the letter of the law has its rewards - both in wealth and their own wicked sense of honor & humor.


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Little Series October 20, 2011
So the sets aren't multi million dollar Hollywood sets. There are no computer created special effects. Personally, I think the big high tech stuff just distracts me from the story anyway. Here the focus is more on the stories and the acting. The look is the 70s and 80s TV series look.

The shows themselves are fun and engaging, not moody, sexually charged, perverse or depressing. Some people love misery and will hate this series. I like feeling good and couldn't rate them higher than I do.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Enslowe
It was a pretty good idea for a T.V. show in the seventies, drawing upon the many (inevitably inferior) knockoff detective novels inspired by Conan Doyle's more famous sleuth. Sherlock Holmes himself is never mentioned in these episodes. Instead we get straightforward presentations of works by lesser known authors from the early 20th century, each of whom came up with his own detective clearly modelled after Holmes. Thus we get Dr. Thorndyke, the police surgeon; Max Carados, the blind amateur sleuth; Horace Dorrington, the... what the heck is he, some kind of grasping con man? And so on. Each character has his own self-contained mystery to solve in a ninety minute episode. The film has that cheesy early videotape quality that one associates with other British shows like Dr. Who or Monty Python of the same period, which makes it seem a bit dated, and more like watching a play than a film. Nevertheless, the acting and sets are good, though some of the protagonist characters seem arrogant and annoying. In theory so was Holmes, yet somehow this quirk suited him, whereas here on lesser known detectives it grates. Anyway, this is a mixed bag of cases and characters, some of which work better than others, none of which work as well as Holmes, but all of which can provide a decent diversion for a long winter evening if you need one. You won't feel the need to revisit these characters after seeing them once, but you'll get a fine idea of the many imitators which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle inspired. Once in a while you will also see young actors who later became better known for other things.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It is good to return to shows you watched Years ago.They were still enjoyable.
Published 2 months ago by David B Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful series of classic mysteries
A wonderful series of classic mysteries. Only not enough of Doctor Thorndyke. By the way, actor John Neville was perfect as Thorndyke.. Excellent service. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Barry Moreno
5.0 out of 5 stars Great old series
Fun seeing the old British actors in their younger days great costumes and well written story lines, dvds played great..
Published 6 months ago by michael rae
1.0 out of 5 stars the rivals of sherlock holmes set 1
about 20 % of the rivals shows were worth watching, the rest were a waste of time. I don t recommend these dvd s. Read more
Published 7 months ago by albert freed
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Crime Cases
Has nothing to do with Sherlock but there are good crime cases. The DVD runs perfectly and the case or the cover and in perfect condition as well.
Published 7 months ago by David Martinez-Ruiz
5.0 out of 5 stars Missed it in the '70s
Missed it the first time around on broadcast television. Will watch it again and again now that I have the DVDs.
Published 10 months ago by Glen Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Great premise but would be better produced today
Think the premise is a good one and hopefully builds curiosity for younger readers to discover more of these forgotten detetectives from the Victorian era. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Craig Alan
4.0 out of 5 stars It's and OK series
We liked some of the episodes but some were not so good. We couldn't tell if the bad guys we good or if the good guys were bad but we did enjoy some of the episodes. Read more
Published 15 months ago by bj
1.0 out of 5 stars Brit TV fan for over 30 years but these are not nearly the "best"
If you think that the British can not make poor television, try watching these! They are all over-acted and poorly written! Read more
Published on June 29, 2012 by BkWyrm
2.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Need Not Worry -- Rivals are paper tigers
Unfortunately the rivals of Sherlock Holmes are not nearly as interesting as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Holmes. They simply do not resonant. Read more
Published on April 23, 2011 by Norma Sutcliffe
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