All I'll say is that you should listen to this song while reading this story: http : / / www . youtube . com / watch?v=DzBio9m-VNc
Jeremy Brett decides not to accept Granada's offer to be Sherlock Holmes. Alternate History. Might be considered Tragedy, depending on how you look at it.
==The Road Not Taken==
In memory of Peter Jeremy William Huggins and Edward Hardwicke…
On this half lit day
With your crown beneath your wing
Every word just echoes
And the empty world sings
Where have you gone my feather light heart?
I never imagined I could leave
He thought long and hard about it, and, in the end, he decided not to do it. Portraying Watson accurately had been bad enough. He could scarcely imagine the kind of effort and fortitude it would take to bring Sherlock Holmes fully to life, something he knew no actor had really done before. To portray every aspect of that multifaceted character… how could he possibly get enough cracks in the marble to let the audience see a heart glimmering beneath the detective's cold façade?
Jeremy Brett regretfully but firmly told Granada "no."
He kept track of the series, however, and he did enjoy it. The costumes, the sets, the locations… it was all so spectacular. The scope of it had to at least rival My Fair Lady, if not beat it. He liked David Burke's Watson very much.
But he felt that he could have done a better job than the actor Granada had ended up picking.
Joanie died. He suffered a breakdown in his health. His son was there for him as often as he could be, but Jeremy wished he could have had a more constant companion than David. He started to gain weight through water retention, but he took care of himself for his son's sake.
He missed David Burke's portrayal of the good Doctor, but he also liked Edward Hardwicke. The man played a gentler, older Watson without ever demeaning the role, and Jeremy liked it.
He ended up working alongside David Burke in the theatre at one point. The two became good friends.
One day, when they were discussing David's time as Watson, David said, "You know, you would have made an excellent Holmes. I would have loved to play your Watson."
Jeremy smiled contemplatively. "Would you still have left?"
David didn't have to think about it. "Yes. I would have had to. My son needed me."
Jeremy nodded. "That would have been hard on me," he said quietly. "Losing my Watson, then losing my wife."
As the years passed and Granada doggedly continued to churn out more episodes, Jeremy noted an increasing lack of faithfulness to the Canon. He wondered many times if, had he taken up the role, he could have held back the tide of artistic license.
After Granada had ended their Sherlock Holmes episodes ten years after beginning, Jeremy had come to befriend Edward Hardwicke as well. Eventually, he regarded Edward as the nicest man he'd ever known. They would joke that, in real life, Edward was the Watson to Jeremy's Holmes. It was a fair analogy.
Jeremy took Edward's death in 2011 very hard.
David Burke was still alive, and Jeremy still kept in touch with him. He clung now to that contact to a slightly mad, fictional private detective, though he scarcely understood himself why he was so desperate to hold on to his last personal link to Holmes.
2012. The year the world was supposed to end. But for Sherlock Holmes, the world wasn't ending—it was only getting bigger. Jeremy was well aware of the hype surrounding Robert Downey, Jr.'s and Benedict Cumberbatch's very dissimilar, very… unique… Sherlocks.
But for all that hype, neither actor, for obvious reasons, was considered definitive. A century and a quarter since the world had been introduced to the Great Detective, and the world had yet to see an actor who could widely be considered definitive.
Sometimes, Jeremy wondered if he could have given the world that. If he could have given them the most accurate, most vivid Holmes they'd ever seen. Sometimes, he regretted that he hadn't tried.
He couldn't help wondered what would have happened had he taken a different road.
In the glistening
Of the lost and open sky
Tiny piece of you sits
Simple wish waits for reply
Where have you gone my feather light heart?
You mustn't forget what love can see
If I made anybody cry… *offers tissue box* Just know you're in good company. In other words, with the author.
Now, let me make very clear that I'm not saying that playing Sherlock Holmes actually killed Jeremy. Definitely not saying that. He had a lot of health issues. But it's just possible that, had he not played Holmes, he would have lived longer. There's just no way of knowing.
I hope you listened to that song while reading. If you didn't, it's the same song bookending this fic— "Where" by Lisbeth Scott, from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe soundtrack. It's a really lovely song, because it uses music from the film's score. I was listening to it on repeat while typing this story out.
At any rate, I hope you enjoyed this little offering, sad though it was. I think all Jeremy Brett fans wonder those big what ifs… this was my attempt to answer one of them.