Houdini & Doyle (2016)


I finally got around to watching the miniseries Houdini & Doyle (2016), which teams Harry Houdini with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and loosely-based-on-history-if-you-squint-hard-enough-and-add-about-a-decade-and-a-half-to-the-time-line female counterpart) solving murder mysteries in early 20th-century London.

I’m not going to lie to you all and deny that I didn’t come into this hoping that this will turn into Ye Olde X-Files, with Houdini being the skeptic who believes there’s always a rational explanation to every otherworldly occurrence, and Doyle as Mulder who is just so convinced that there’s some supernatural explanation to everything. So far, however, the first episode doesn’t really bear that out, so what do I know? That said, I was actually drawn in by the premise and will watch it regardless of whether or not the costumes get more interesting as we go forward. Honestly, the costumes are actually pretty good. Claire Finlay-Thompson, who has a number of British shows under her belt (mostly contemporary costumes) obviously has a good eye for the period.

Plus Tim McInnerny is in it. No matter what flavor of creepazoid asshole he’s playing, you gotta love Tim McInnerny.

Right out of the gate, the extras’ costumes are all pretty good. Some might even say … very good.


I feel like this is an entire inspo lewk for dark academia aficionados.


Everyone in this photo makes me deeply uncomfortable.


Constable Stratton isn’t above wearing a smart suit and hat when she’s undercover.


I liked Constable Stratton’s police uniform. I just wish the screenshots weren’t so dark, because it’s actually a very good interpretation of what a woman’s uniform might have looked like as early as 1901.


Doyle has a pretty snazzy gray suit that I rather liked.


I really liked this half-second glimpse of a costume on this extra.


Mrs. Houdini is … well … rich.


And last, but not least, I thought Doyle’s daughter had a really nice outfit in the one scene she’s in.


I’m going to stick with this show and if the costumes get more interesting going forward, I’ll do more posts about it. But all in all, I think it’s worth a watch.


Have you seen Houdini & Doyle (2016)? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

11 Responses

  1. Michael McQuown

    I liked it. Somewhere, I have a photo of the real-life men, but I don’t know how to post it.

  2. heatherbelles

    I have not seen this, but really should look it out.

    It’s always amused me that they were pals. (There’s an interesting dialogue between them about the Cottingley Fairy photos…. Needless to say Houdini was unconvinced….)

  3. Allison

    This is on my to-watch list. The premise is interesting, the costumes look decent, and it has two of my favorite actors in it (Tim McInnerny and Adam Nagaitis, who are always a treat).

  4. Lori

    I truly enjoyed this series and was disappointed that it was not renewed.I look forward to any additional reviews that are written up on the series.

  5. M.E. Lawrence

    Guys in braces and those shirts with the little stand-up collar! Visually, at least, this looks pretty nice. Please do keep us informed. (By the way, have the Frock Flickers ever looked at “FairyTale,” the 1997 movie with Peter O’Toole as Conan Doyle and Harvey Keitel as Houdini? Don’t recall much about the costumes, but my overall memory is that it’s quite enjoyable.)

    • heatherbelles

      I have, and have a copy. (Work related reasons. Same reason I have read some of their actual correspondence the photos)

      Plays super fast and loose with the history, but given it very much takes the line fairies are real, compressing it all into a very short time frame of under a year makes sense dramatically.

      Trivia fact I enjoy about the film, are the schoolkids were cast from the local brownies/cubs groups.

      I can report all is quiet in fairyland tonight, though it rained earlier…

  6. Karen B Hayes

    Must be good. Tim McI has long been my favorite Brit creepazoid asshole. Esp. comic ones (Sir Percy, Blackadder).

  7. Nzie

    I remember seeing something about this on a chat show where Stephen Mangan described it and it sounded interesting, but I haven’t spotted it anywhere. I find it quite interesting how Doyle was so well-known for the ultra-logical detective, but quite into the spiritualist stuff that Houdini, a professional “trickster”, derided. Hope it plays out well since it’s such an interesting premise.

  8. Kudzu Girl

    I enjoyed the show (for the X-files like vibe) and was sad it only got one season. I keep meaning to go back and re-watch it. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of other episodes.

    If you ever need a laugh, Stephen Mangan (Doyle) is one of the comedians in the series “Very British Problems”.

  9. Lily Lotus Rose

    Ooh….I don’t think I’ve heard of this one, but I’m definitely going to look for it. I’m trying to figure out why I’m responding so well to Stephen Mangan’s ‘stache in that one photo–’cause I’m usually not into that. Also, I think this whole post was worth it just for the sentence, “Everyone in this photo makes me deeply uncomfortable.”