The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes lasted for 2 seasons of 13 episodes each from 1971-1973. The series dramatized non-Holmes stories of detectives solving mysteries in Victorian and Edwardian England written by contemporary authors. For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode click HERE
Episode: THE WOMAN IN THE BIG HAT (November 15th, 1971)
Detective: Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, created by Baroness Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel). The first Lady Molly story was published in 1910.
Review: The fictional Lady Molly Robertson-Kirk was depicted working as a detective for Scotland Yard a full decade before women did so in real life. The period details in her series of mysteries often include references to the Women’s Suffrage Movement, but never to the point where it interferes with the storytelling.
The Woman in the Big Hat starts off with Lady Molly, played magnificently by Elvi Hale, shopping for a new hat. Her sharply-honed powers of observation allow her to thwart an attempted robbery by a few larcenous ladies posing as customers at the high-class shop.
Rest assured this will tie back into the main story, but for now it’s back to Scotland Yard for Lady Molly and Mary Granard (Ann Beach, right), her Watson-style sidekick/ biographer. Elsewhere in London, a distinguished gentleman drops dead from poison at a cafe shortly after his female companion leaves the table.
With the only description of the presumed murderess being that she wore “a big hat,” Inspector Saunders (Peter To The Manor Born Bowles) finds that his investigation has hit a dead end. Reluctantly, he enlists the help of our heroine.
Molly ably dives into the case and is baffled by the reluctance of the dead man’s own family to cooperate with the authorities. Thinking outside the box, Robertson-Kirk plants a fake newspaper ad offering a reward from the family for information regarding the woman in the big hat.
In the fashion of all regulation-bound policemen, Inspector Saunders blusters over the sheer cheek of this unorthodox stunt but it does break open some surprising leads in the case. Molly expertly sifts through the new information and penetrates to the heart of the mystery.
As our story hurls toward its clever conclusion, Lady Molly turns out to have her own all-female version of Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars. In her case it’s a collection of wily, rebellious ladies who love tweaking the sensibilities of the day by scouring London for clues or by staging whatever public stunts our heroine asks.
Among those ladies are Suffragists and assorted denizens of the shady criminal underworld, including the shoplifters from early in the tale. Everything comes to a head in a dangerous confrontation between Lady Molly and the murderer.
This is a very entertaining murder mystery and at just 52 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Elvi Hale as our heroine has a certain Francesca Annis appeal. I’d have loved to see at least one more Lady Molly story in this series, but unfortunately she was one of the many detectives who got only one episode.
If you like LibriVox audiobooks you can listen to all twelve Lady Molly of Scotland Yard mysteries HERE
I’ll review the next episode soon. Keep checking back.
FOR MORE FORGOTTEN TELEVISION CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/forgotten-television/