ITV: starts Monday, 2 March, 9pm
Story: Set in 1906 in Staffordshire, Hampshire and London, the drama follows Sir Arthur and his trusted secretary, Alfred ‘Woodie’ Wood, as they investigate the case of George Edalji, a young Anglo-Indian solicitor who was imprisoned for allegedly mutilating animals and writing obscene letters.
ARTHUR & GEORGE, based on Julian Barnes's 2005 novel, is inspired by the story of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle's reinvention of himself as a real-life investigator.
George Edalji was a half-Indian solicitor who was convicted of the rather revolting Great Wyrley Outrages, in which horses were mutilated in the countryside – crimes that the judge called 'depraved and bazarre'. Edalji was sentenced to seven years, read Holmes's adventures while incarcerated, and on his release appealed to the world-renowned author for assistance in clearing his name.
And what an extraordinary tale it is. Like The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – also filmed by ITV – it is an intriguing window into the Victorian mindset and attitudes.
Martin Clunes as Conan DoyleWhile this production – with Martin Clunes playing Conan Doyle and Arsher Ali as Edalji – is pretty
|Conan Doyle (Martin Clunes) and Jean Leckie (Hattie Morahan)|
It is replete with full moons, foggy nights, spectral figures and a sinister hate campaign against Edalji and his multiracial family. Conan Doyle himself would have been hard-pushed to concoct such a yarn.
The drama, like the novel, also touches on Conan Doyles' seemingly sexless relationship with Jean Leckie following the death of his wife, Louisa.
Martin Clunes is fine as the writer rejuvenated by his investigation, though the Scottish accent wobbles a bit. While he appears to bumble along, wondering whether he should don disguises as his fictional consulting detective would do, Conan Doyle does see through police prejudice and uncover some very unpleasant goings-on.