When two legends return to London at Christmas 1912, their paths are fated to cross once more…
Astute listeners may have noticed a brief cameo by Nick Briggs’ Sherlock Holmes in one of the sequences in the Dorian Gray finale last month, sharing Holmes’ famous axiom. Was this a delusion on the part of the young immortal, or had the two shared an adventure?
This double-length Christmas special provides the answer, courtesy of Tony Lee’s intriguing script, which pits the two against each other. The Big Finish Holmes has encountered elements of the supernatural before, so his considerable scepticism here is, perhaps, a little more than is justified by his experiences, but equally in keeping with Conan Doyle’s original character (the price of doing a Holmes/Dracula story as part of your “canon”.)
This is a minor quibble though in a terrific story, where ghosts from both men’s pasts reappear to haunt them. Of course not everything is quite as it seems, and enough is left unresolved at the end for the inevitable “Ghosts of Christmas Present” (or at least I hope it’s inevitable!) next year.
Alexander Vlahos’ Merlin co-star Rupert Young makes a good foil for Holmes – his way of proving his identity is a nice touch and is played with just the right amount of conviction. Briggs’ Holmes is the older version, last heard in The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner, and appears without his Watson: perhaps not quite the master of old, he is a ripe target for temptation…
Vlahos himself – whose Mordred was so central to the final three episodes of Merlin – is at his best in this story: it’s earlier in Dorian’s story than we’ve heard for the majority of the series, so this is a return to the Gray of old. His fear at the potential loss of his portrait is palpable, and his description of the immortal life almost (but not quite) makes you sorry for Dorian.
Verdict: A team-up that succeeds in providing character development for both its leads and gripping the audience. 8/10