Baker Street Irregulars

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Baker Street Irregulars
Sherlock Holmes character
Three CGI children looking up.
Sherlock meets the Irregulars in A Study in Scarlet, as illustrated by Richard Gutschmidt.
First appearanceA Study in Scarlet (1887)
Last appearance"The Adventure of the Crooked Man" (1893)
Created byArthur Conan Doyle
In-universe information

The Baker Street Irregulars are fictional characters who appear in three Sherlock Holmes stories, specifically two novels and one short story, by Arthur Conan Doyle. They are street boys who are employed by Holmes as intelligence agents. The name has subsequently been adopted by other organizations, most notably a prestigious and exclusive literary society founded in the United States by Christopher Morley in 1934.

Fictional profile[edit]

The original Baker Street Irregulars are fictional characters in the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle. The group of street urchins is led by a boy called Wiggins. They run errands and track down information for Holmes. According to Holmes, they are able to "go everywhere and hear everything". Holmes also says that they "are as sharp as needles, too; all they want is organisation."[1] In The Sign of the Four, which takes place in 1888,[2] it is shown that Holmes pays them each a shilling per day (equivalent to £7 in 2023)[3], and Holmes offers a guinea prize (equivalent to £148 in 2023)[3] as a reward for the one who locates the steam launch that he wants them to find.[4]

The group appears in the first Sherlock Holmes story, the novel A Study in Scarlet (1887),[4] which is set in 1881.[5] When Watson meets the group, he describes them as "half a dozen of the dirtiest and most ragged street Arabs that ever I clapped eyes on". Holmes introduces them as "the Baker Street division of the detective police force". The group enters 221B Baker Street together, but since they upset Holmes's landlady (who is unnamed in this story but later named Mrs. Hudson), Holmes tells them that in future, only their leader Wiggins should report to him. He pays them each a shilling to track down a certain cabman. They find the cabman, Jefferson Hope, successfully. Wiggins brings him to 221B Baker Street, where the cabman is apprehended by Holmes.[1]

They also appear in the next novel, The Sign of the Four (1890), set in 1888,[2] in which one of the chapters is titled "The Baker Street Irregulars". In this story, Holmes describes them as "the unofficial force — the Baker Street irregulars".[6] As in A Study in Scarlet, the group enters 221B Baker Street together and Holmes instructs them to only have Wiggins report to him in future. Wiggins receives three shillings and sixpence (which he calls "Three bob and a tanner"[6]) from Holmes for expenses in addition to his regular wage. Holmes directs the Baker Street Irregulars to search for a steam launch called the Aurora. However, they do not succeed and Holmes ultimately joins the search by disguising himself as a sailor. Though approximately seven years have passed since A Study in Scarlet, Wiggins is still the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars. He is described as being taller and older than the others, and has an "air of lounging superiority".[1]

One of the group appears in the short story "The Adventure of the Crooked Man" (1893). In the story, Holmes has a member of the group, named Simpson, watch Henry Wood. As Holmes says, "I have one of my Baker Street boys mounting guard over him who would stick to him like a burr, go where he might". Simpson, whom Watson describes as "a small street Arab", briefly appears in the story to report to Holmes.[7]

Though not one of the Baker Street Irregulars, a similar character named Cartwright appears in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902). Cartwright, who works in a district messenger office, secretly runs errands for Holmes on the moor and keeps him supplied while disguised as a country boy. At one point Watson sees the disguised Cartwright running errands, and describes him as "a small urchin" and a "ragged uncouth figure".[1] Cartwright is described as a "lad of fourteen" in the novel.[8] Another similar character, a pageboy named Billy, assists Holmes in "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone".[9]

According to Daniel Smith in his book The Sherlock Holmes Companion, Holmes was skilled at developing a network of agents who could assist him in any situation, and this network included multiple "outsider" figures such as the Baker Street Irregulars as well as Cartwright, Billy, and former criminal Shinwell Johnson. Smith wrote that this shows that Holmes "realised the value of reliable assistants and was humble enough to look for them in places where others of his status might have never deigned to tread".[9]


Television and film[edit]

  • A BBC television series starring the Irregulars titled The Baker Street Boys aired in 1983.[10]
  • The Baker Street Irregulars appear in the 1988 film Without a Clue and work for Dr. Watson (Ben Kingsley). There is a running gag in the film whereby they pick the pocket watches of everyone they meet.[11]
  • In the animated sci-fi television series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (1999–2001), a trio of children aid Holmes as the new Baker Street Irregulars, and are even led by a boy named Wiggins.[12]
  • A BBC television film titled Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars aired in 2007.[13]
  • The modern-day series Sherlock re-imagines the Irregulars as a "Homeless Network" devised of the destitute of London, rather than specifically homeless boys. They do however specifically name one of Sherlock's future informers Billy (who attempts to use the nickname 'The Wig').
  • In the modern-day adaptation Elementary (set in New York), the "Irregulars" are an assortment of experienced adults in certain fields that Holmes calls on for insight when his own knowledge of a subject proves inadequate to the current case.[14] Demonstrated Irregulars include a meteorologist, a mathematician, an expert in Greek literature, and a man with a particularly keen sense of smell.
  • At the conclusion of the 2011 film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, two of the Irregulars can be seen seated attending the funeral service for Holmes following his encounter with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls.
  • In 2021 Netflix released The Irregulars, in which the group solve supernatural crimes while Holmes and Watson take all the credit.[15]

Radio and audio dramas[edit]

  • In "The Adventure of the Innocent Murderess", a 1947 broadcast of The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes starring Tom Conway and Nigel Bruce, the character "Charlie" is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars paid 5 shillings for tips leading to the solution of the crime.[16]
  • Four actors played the Baker Street Irregulars in a 1963 BBC radio adaptation of The Sign of the Four in the 1952–1969 radio series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, with another actor, Glyn Dearman, playing Wiggins.[17]
  • In "The Adventure of the Irregular Client", a 2013 episode of the American radio series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes's client is a former member of the Baker Street Irregulars.[18]
  • A member of the Baker Street Irregulars appears in the Audible audio drama Sherlock Holmes: The Voice of Treason (2020).[19]


  • Wiggins and the Irregulars appeared in the 1965 musical Baker Street. In the musical, they perform the songs "Leave It To Us, Guv" and "Roof Space".[20]
  • The Irregulars perform the song "Anything You Want To Know" in the 1989 musical Sherlock Holmes: The Musical. They also perform three other songs alongside other characters.[21]

Video games[edit]

The Irregulars as pictured in Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper.

Board games[edit]

  • The Baker Street Irregulars play a lead role in the series of cooperative board games Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, first published in 1981 with multiple expansions released later. In 2020 the fourth game in the series was released, titled 'The Baker Street Irregulars'.[25] The board game was adapted for the 1991–1993 Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective video game series, though the Irregulars do not play a lead role in the video games.


  • Terrance Dicks wrote a series of children's novels titled The Baker Street Irregulars.[26] The ten books in the series were published between 1978 and 1987.[27]
  • A series of four graphic novels released in 2011, titled Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars, was written by Tony Lee and illustrated by Dan Boultwood.[28] It was adapted into a play, also titled Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars, by Eric Coble.[29]
  • The Baker Street Irregulars appear in Anthony Horowitz's 2011 novel The House of Silk.[30]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Cawthorne, Nigel (2011). A Brief History of Sherlock Holmes. Running Press. pp. 210–212. ISBN 978-0762444083.
  2. ^ a b Smith, Daniel (2014) [2009]. The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide (Updated ed.). Aurum Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-78131-404-3.
  3. ^ a b UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved May 7, 2024.
  4. ^ a b Doyle, Arthur Conan (1887). A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 6: "Tobias Gregson Shows Us What He Can Do"  – via Wikisource.
  5. ^ Smith, Daniel (2014) [2009]. The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide (Updated ed.). Aurum Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-78131-404-3.
  6. ^ a b Doyle, Arthur Conan (1890). The Sign of the Four, Chapter 8: "The Baker Street Irregulars"  – via Wikisource.
  7. ^ Doyle, Arthur Conan (1893). The Crooked Man  – via Wikisource.
  8. ^ The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. Retrieved 29 June 2020 – via Gutenberg.
  9. ^ a b Smith, Daniel (2014) [2009]. The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide (Updated ed.). Aurum Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-78131-404-3.
  10. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 34. ISBN 9780857687760.
  11. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 300. ISBN 9780857687760.
  12. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 226. ISBN 9780857687760.
  13. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 9780857687760.
  14. ^ McNutt, Myles (13 November 2014). "Elementary: "Just A Regular Irregular"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  15. ^ "The Irregulars Netflix release date". Radio Times. Retrieved 21 January 2024.
  16. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Innocent Murderess, retrieved 2021-07-07
  17. ^ De Waal, Ronald Burt (1974). The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes. Bramhall House. p. 390. ISBN 0-517-217597.
  18. ^ "109. The Adventure of the Irregular Client". Imagination Theatre. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  19. ^ Sherlock Holmes: The Voice of Treason (Audio recording). Audible Original. 16 March 2020. Chapters 7 and 12.
  20. ^ "Baker Street". Playbill. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Sherlock Holmes - The Musical". Guide to Musical Theatre. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Sherlock Holmes - Consulting Detective Vol. II (1992)(Sega)(US)". 1992. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  23. ^ "The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Cluebook" (PDF). Museum of Computer Adventure Game History. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  24. ^ "The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Rose Tattoo - Manual" (PDF). Museum of Computer Adventure Game History. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  25. ^ "The Baker Street Irregulars". Space Cowboys. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  26. ^ Ritman, Alex (2 September 2019). "Terrance Dicks, 'Doctor Who' Writer, Dies at 84". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Baker Street Irregulars: A series by Terrance Dicks". Fantastic Fiction. 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  28. ^ "Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood Tackle "Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars"". Comic Book Resources. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  29. ^ "Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars". Dramatic Publishing. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  30. ^ Zipp, Yvonne (15 December 2011). "5 Best Mysteries of the Holiday Season". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  31. ^ Sweet-Escott, Bickham, Baker Street Irregular, London, Methuen, 1965.
  32. ^ Cowan, M.E. "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress". A Heinlein Concordance. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  33. ^ Matthewman, Scott (21 April 2013). "Ten Things About Who: Hide". Archived from the original on 1 September 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  34. ^ Preston, Douglas; Child, Lincoln. "Read the opening chapters of WHITE FIRE". Preston & Child. Retrieved 3 December 2019.