I was very sad to read the news of Edward Hardwicke's passing today. For me, he and David Burke who had potrayed Doctor John Watson alongside Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes in the Granada series really helped to erase the image of the bumbling harrumphing old duffer Nigel Bruge had created for the character in the Basil Rathbone series.
Even though there had been a couple really good portrayals of the character before the Granada series, I feel this was the series which gave us the first authentic Holmes and Watson. You feel had the feeling that these could be real people. First with David Burke and then later with Edward Hardwicke. What worked out well with the transition between actors was the fact that there was the gap of time between Holmes's deadly duel with Moriarty over Reichenbach Falls till Holmes returns.
So you had this sense that Edward Hardwicke was the same actor as Watson. Only a few years older.
Sometimes that type of change can ruin a series. But in this case the series continued until Jeremy Brett's own death in 1995.
Even when I was working on adapting William Gillette's play into a graphic novel, it was the Brett/Hardwicke team in my mind as I worked on the pages.
RIP Edward Hardwicke.