In case you haven’t noticed, Netflix seems to have a love affair with taking popular novels and creating hit TV series for its audience. The newest show to follow the ever-growing trend takes its roots from a rather celebrated literary tale…while simultaneously flipping it on its head to usher the story into a new era: The Irregulars, which is part of the larger Sherlock Holmes universe.
Here’s a little bit of intel on the show’s premise. Based on the works of 19th-century author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (you might remember him as the man behind a certain famous pipe-smoking British detective), the show follows a group of teenagers (who are also extremely good-looking?) living in central London as they save the city from supernatural elements the adults just can’t seem to figure out. It sounds pretty great, right? Well, the gang has just one downside to their activities: Sherlock Holmes himself, who seems to think he deserves to take credit for his employees’ deeds. Yikes.
As you binge the show—and believe me, you’re going to not stop watching once you start—there might be a lingering thought in the back of your mind: Exactly who are the Irregulars? Yes, they have an entire TV show dedicated to them, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye with this ragtag crew.
Where did the Irregulars come from?
As it turns out, they’ve been in the famous Sherlock Holmes novels the entire time—it’s just that no one really paid attention to them. Referred to as the Baker Street Irregulars, the street urchins turned informants first appear in A Study of Scarlet, where Dr. Watson (you know…Holmes’s lackey) casually refers to them as “half a dozen of the dirtiest and most ragged” kids he’s ever seen.
While the group usually prefers traveling in a pack, the ever-erratic Holmes isn’t about that. Instead, he just has one of the kids come along when he feels the need to summon them to 221B Baker Street. The Irregulars also appear in The Sign of the Four and the short story “The Adventure of the Crooked Man,” meaning there’s definitely a lot of them to go around in 1880s England.
Now who makes up the Irregulars?
Funny you should ask. The novels don’t necessarily mention all by name, but one kid stands out amongst them all: Wiggins, the leader of the gang and the one to actually meet with Holmes. Netflix decided to take liberty of the mostly nameless crew, making them all essential to the story and important to whatever crime solved. Their names are:
Bea (Thaddea Graham)
Jessie (Darci Shaw)
Billy (Jojo Marcari)
Spike (McKell David)
Leopold (Harrison Osterfield)
But what is their purpose in the novels?
Well, Holmes can’t exactly be in all places at once, right? That’s where the Irregulars come in. According to the detective in The Sign of Four, the group is there to be “the unofficial force” and to be his eyes and ears for any clues pertaining to his mysteries. Good thing there’s a lot of them, as it seems like Holmes legit can’t sit down for a second to process it all.
Oh, and if you’re wondering whether the group gets paid for their work—you know they’re smart enough to demand a wage. Holmes *kindly* gives them a shilling a day (roughly £6 for those counting coins) in exchange for hearing the latest gossip in the city. While it doesn’t seem like a lot to us these days, there’s one thing for certain: The kids—and the show itself—will be worth a lot more after you finish it.
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