Past Pipesmoker of the Year and a good friend was the late Jeremy Brett, who, like his Holmesian predecessor Basil Rathbone, forsook cigarettes in favour of the pipe in order to play the role of Britain's greatest consulting detective, and liked it so much he stuck with it. When Granada Television began its Sherlock Holmes series, Jeremy, striving for authenticity, smoked a long-stemmed antique briar with an amber bit. Unfortunately, such an attractive prop was coveted by others besides the actor, for it was 'permanently borrowed' during one of the rehearsals. That is why you see Brett smoking a Peterson churchwarden
during the second instalment, The Return of Sherlock Holmes stories. But after learning of his missing original Victorian briar, I decided to surprise my friend and commissioned a near duplicate of the pipe that was pinched, with a few carefully planned alterations: the rim of the bowl was angled inwards so that it wouldn't reflect the overhead stage lights and the bit was made of an amber-like resin so that it would not be as fragile as the real stuff, which can crack like glass and often does. This is the pipe that Brett smokes in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, and his final episodes in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. But like the character of Holmes, which he so brilliantly played, Jeremy preferred a variety of pipes, and I will never forget the Pipesmoker of the Year luncheon in which he got his award, when he cautiously turned to me before the ceremony and said, "Do you think this pipe will be all right to smoke?" From his silk waistcoat he pulled out a Pollock-made British clay, which Holmes always turned to for his 'disputatious moods.' It was the perfect touch.