Created by Tom Bidwell, ‘The Irregulars’ is a supernatural horror show that attempts to expand the ‘Holmes’ universe of Arthur Conan Doyle. The narrative of the series revolves around a group of mavericks who are employed by Watson to solve heinous paranormal crimes in nineteenth-century London. In this universe, the charismatic literary superhero, Sherlock Holmes, has been transformed into a rundown junkie and a miserable father figure lost in the attics of personal history.
However, while everyone knows about the legendary investigator Sherlock Holmes, many are not familiar with the Irregulars as a set of characters in the original stories. If the show has made you wonder whether it is tethered to the original Sherlock universe created by Conan Doyle, we have your back. There may be possible spoilers ahead.
Is The Irregulars Based on Sherlock Holmes?
‘The Irregulars’ is partially based on Sherlock Holmes. While the show takes familiar characters of Holmes and Watson from the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, it deviates to turn the rational and scientific world of Holmes upside down. While a band of street urchins takes center stage, the principal characters of the duo are antagonized through and through.
The premise of the story explores the possibility of Sherlock being a slacker and a delinquent, and while he drifts off into the margins, the Irregulars jump on to solve enthralling cases involving powerful supervillains. What the supernatural horror spin-off manages to do is to ask whether the street urchins were the ones who solved the cases while Sherlock took all the credit.
“The Baker Street Irregulars” of the original stories, we are compelled to let you know, were a set of fictional characters first introduced by Doyle in ‘A Study in Scarlet.’ A group of motley street children led by a page boy called Wiggins, they assists Sherlock in tracking down words of the streets. Sherlock remarks that they are “sharp as needles” and even designates them to be the Baker Street division of the Scotland Yard.
The group is also featured in the novel ‘The Sign of the Four,’ where the Baker Street Irregulars help Sherlock in finding a steamboat called the Aurora. In fact, is it chapter 8 of the book that lends them the name of “The Baker Street Irregulars.” Outside the motley crew, there are isolated characters like Billy and Cartwright who run errands for Sherlock in the Conan Doyle universe. In the literary universe, a member of the group by the name of Simpson also appears in ‘The Adventure of the Crooked Man.’ Billy is also a character in the show, apart from familiar names like Sherlock, Mycroft, and Watson. However, the resemblances end there.
Interestingly, Bidwell was reading ‘The Sign of the Four’ a decade ago, and when he came across the Irregulars was when he got the idea to develop a series around them. After all, the creator wanted to add to the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ universe in his own unique way. He also mentioned that Doyle was a person quite fascinated with the supernatural and other mystical motifs like occults. Lo and behold, Bidwell wanted these to merge these two facets of the celebrated literary icon, which is exactly what ‘The Irregulars’ manages to do.
But there are other aspects of the plot that also need to be discussed. The story develops on the thin thread of the possibility of Holmes having a family, as it deviates from exploring the personal life of Sherlock in greater detail. Was there a wife of Sherlock Holmes? Maybe children, even? If you have read or seen the original series, you would know that Sherlock is “as inhuman as a Babbage’s calculating machine.”
Therefore, he is rendered incapable of falling in love. In the stories, we find no more about Sherlock’s family than the sole brother of Mycroft Holmes, and other narratives of Sherlock’s private life are often vague and obscured. In that regard, the mastery of the show is to bring Sherlock out of his realm of “true, cold reason” into a world of quirky adventures and gruesome monsters.