The companion of the fictional detective — the “stupid friend” as Ronald Knox styled them — is something I have spent far too long thinking about, mainly because the protoype is always taken to be Sherlock Holmes’ chronicler Dr. John H. Watson. Joining me this week to discuss why that might not always be a good comparison to draw is Caroline Crampton of the superb Shedunnit podcast.
Back in October 2019, about the time I was mulling over an examination of the very Decalogue in which Knox talks about the “stupid friend”, Caroline put out this episode about Watsons that got me thinking we should exchange views on the topic. It has taken some time, mainly because I’ve been less productive about the Knox Decalogue than my rosy optimism predicted, but with a look at rule 9 coming on Tuesday next week, here we are.
So, who is John Watson? What is his purpose in the Holmes stories? What does the changing face of GAD mean for the role of the “stupid friend”? How might that differ from the original intent of Doyle’s stories? All this and more — including a comparison with classic UK sticom Yes, Minister (1980-84) — is raked over in the search of what we mean when we call a character a ‘Watson’ and whether the label has any meaning 134 years after the character’s emergence.
Thanks, of course, go to Caroline for her time here and the work she put into compiling as mentioned in the above, to Jonny Berliner for the music, to you for listening, and to Arthur Conan Doyle for providing us with an archetype from which so much wonderful material has poured forth.
More podcast in two weeks, when Moira, Brad, and I shall be discussing A Murder is Announced (1950) by Agatha Christie in full spoiler-rich detail, and then back to normal In GAD We Trust service thereafter.
Stay safe, keep your distance, wash your hands.
All episodes of In GAD We Trust can be found on the blog by clicking here.