The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was an old-time radio show which aired in the USA from October 2, 1939 to July 7, 1947. The show first aired on the Blue Network but later moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System. The radio stories were action packed, filled with atmosphere, and featured great music by Lou Kosloff, as well as excellent sound effects.
Originally, the show starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. Together, they starred in 220 episodes which aired weekly on Mondays from 8:30 to 9:00pm. Commercialism seeped into the radio show from the start, as Watson himself, played by various actors, took on the co-host role with a spokesman for G. Washington Tea as a visitor ready to hear a Holmes story. Before a blazing fire with tea always at the brew, Watson reminiscences the great tales between comments on how good the tea is! Bromo Quinine sponsored some of the earlier programs on the NBC Blue Network and for a period Parker Pen was the sponsor.
Basil Rathbone’s last episode as the famous detective was “The Singular Affair of the Baconian Cipher.” He was eager to separate himself from the cast type of Holmes, and even though the show’s sponsor Petri Wine offered him generous pay to continue, he decided to move on. Once he did, the sponsor did as well, and Tom Conway took the starring role, though Nigel Bruce got top billing and was always announced first. The new sponsor was Kreml Hair Tonic for Men, and the new series only lasted 39 episodes.
In 1955, NBC re-ran the transcribed BBC series of the original great Conan Doyle stories with the fine actors Sir John Gielgud as Holmes, and Sir Ralph Richardson as Watson, and in “The Final Problem,” Orson Welles as Moriarty.
For American radio, the heroine of Holmes on the radio was Edith Meiser, an actress who loved the stories and was convinced they would make great listening. She scripted several Conan Doyle stories and took them around. NBC liked them, but had no sponsor ready. Meiser Shopped for a sponsor for the show herself, and went back to the network triumphantly. Beginning in the early 1930’s, she single-handed wrote the show for over a dozen years, first working from the Conan Doyle canon, and then continuing to create stories in the spirit of the originals.