This gentleman must be included in any list of the top five Dr. Watsons! Actually I rate him as number three but there are lots of arguments to be made and as long as he’s in your personal top five I’m happy. Just the other night I re-watched all four of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries in which he appears opposite Matt Frewer as Sherlock Holmes. All four TV movies are period pieces (Hound of the Baskervilles, The Whitechapel Vampire, Royal
Scandal and The Sign of Four). The production quality is exceptional; costumes, sets, locations, cinematography, it all is superb. Matt Frewer’s portrayal of Holmes is a little quirky for me but Welsh is astounding. In getting ready to play the part Welsh stated that he “wasn’t going to try and play everyone else’s Watson”. He surely did not play the Watson of bumbling infamy!
When asked what he thought of Watson, Welsh stated: “I love him. … He’s very compassionate, kind, interested in people, explorative, concerned about Holmes’ drug habit and unafraid to express an opinion. He’s really kind of an admirable sort of man actually.” This was a man destined to play an effective Watson. What is also curious is that Welsh admits to never having read a Doyle story before being selected to play Watson though he had seen some movies.
The Hound is fairly true to the original story and so Watson really carries the weight of the tale. Welsh plays a Watson who can be trusted by Holmes to accomplish the task of protecting Sir Henry and acting as (unknowing) decoy. Of the four made for TV movies, The Whitechapel Vampire is Matt Frewer’s best. Welsh, however is uniformly excellent as Watson throughout all four films. Welsh portrays Watson as you always knew he was.
Kenneth Welsh was born 30 March 1942 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His father worked for the railroad and Welsh studied drama in school. He attended the National Theatre School in Montreal for three years and then moved on to the Stratford Festival for seven years. He has 193 film events to his credit starting back in 1964. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2003 for his many contributions to the arts in Canada. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Alberta in 1999. Welsh appears now to be drawn to period pieces having played such men as Thomas Dewey, Thomas Edison, Harry Truman and General Harry Crerar. He is an actor in constant demand for TV and film. We are fortunate he took time to play our favorite doctor!