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Christopher Ravenscroft as Burden and George Baker as Wexford.

The Four Oaks Mystery

Article from The Mirror, TV Times • May 7, 1992

Sherlock Holmes teams up with Van Der Valk, Taggart and Wexford to solve a special murder mystery written by Ian Kennedy Martin for the 1992 ITV Telethon.

ITV’s top detectives join forces for the first time in a bid to keep viewers tuned to the Telethon marathon. Sherlock Holmes teams up with Van Der Valk, Taggart and Wexford in The Detectives to solve a murder mystery - though none of them actually meet up on screen during the four-part special going out over two nights (Saturday,7pm, 9.30pm; Sunday, 7pm, 9pm).

Holmes (Jeremy Brett), with his sidekick Watson (Edward Hardwicke), discovers a gruesome double murder. But he has a deadly appointment with his arch-enemy Moriarty and never gets the chance to solve The Four Oaks Mystery.

The trail lies dormant for a hundred years until it is rediscovered by Dutch detective Van der Valk (Barry Foster). It leads to Glasgow, where Taggart (Mark McManus) picks up the grisly thread before finally reaching Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford George Baker.

It’s a preposterous story, but it’s done quite seriously. I think it would backfire if it wasn’t, says Barry Foster. It’s been cut together very neatly and moves along at a rate of knots.

Four of the greatest television detectives of all time get to grips with a Telethon special four-part mystery spanning 100 years

The Mystery begins when a coachman and his passenger are brutally murdered. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson soon arrive at the scene of the crime. Holmes learns that a fortune in Roman jewels was discovered in the vicinity in 1761 - but mysteriously disappeared - and has never been found. Could this double murder be linked to the missing jewellery?

The scene switches to modern-day Amsterdam, where Inspector Van der Valk is investigating a murder - an Englishman has been poisoned in his hotel room. In the dead man’s room are a dozen items of antique jewellery, so the motive can’t be robbery, can it?

Shortly afterwards, a new file is dumped in Taggart’s in-tray, another attempted murder in Glasgow’s mean streets. The victim is a young woman from London who had previously visited Glasgow with the man who was murdered in Amsterdam. What could have brought her back here alone?

Now the trail leads to the rolling English countryside where Chief Inspector Reg Wexford is following up on one of his famous hunches. A visit to his old geography teacher and careful study of an Ordnance Survey map leads him to an abandoned cottage at the end of a country lane. But will Wexford finally solve the mystery of the murders and discover the hidden hoard of jewels?