The Sherlock Holmes Society of London

London visit of Vasily Livanov

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London visit of Vasily Livanov

16th January 2007

London visit of Vasily Livanov - photos here

Members of the Sherlock Holmes Society responded at short notice to a request from the National Broadcasting Company of Russia to take part in a documentary they were filming in London about actor Vasily Livanov.

Sherlock Holmes was hugely popular in the Soviet Union and still is today in Russia. Lenfilms made a series of five Russian-language film adaptations, broken into eleven episodes, beginning in 1979 and ending in 1986. These cemented the popularity of Sherlock Holmes behind the Iron Curtain.

Many Sherlockians consider Vasily Livanov's portayal of the Master to be one of the best on screen. Livanov was strongly supported by the late Vitaly Solomin as Watson, in my opinion the best screen Watson ever. See link for further details of this excellent series which is now available on DVD with sub titles on the Internet.

Members were filmed discussing the series with Vasily Livanov whose command of English was very good at he Sherlock Holmes pub and restaurant in Northumberland Avenue. He was absolutely fascinating and charming company. Amongst the details he gave us was that the external shots of "Victorian London" were filmed on location in Riga and Tallin. The Thames in the Sign of Four was in fact the River Neva in St Petersburg and the Reichenbach Falls scenes were filmed in freezing Georgia!. Afterwards we walked with him and the camera crew to Westminster Bridge pointing out such canonical sights as Lestrade's old haunt, Scotland Yard and Westminster Stairs.

Vasily Livanov used his variation on Holmes’ legendary phrase — “Elementarno, Vatson!” - to take his place in the hearts of Soviet citizens, as well as to receive the Order of the British Empire. Livanov is the only Russian actor to have received the honour. Whilst at the pub Vasily Livanov was bestowed another honour, membership of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.  He accepted this and promptly put on his society lapel pin.

The documentary is due to be broadcast in Russia in February 2007 at about the same time a statue to Livanov/Solomin's Holmes and Watson will be unveiled in Moscow on the banks of the Moscow River near the British Embassy.  

Robert Graham