A history of sleuths in the family

by Shannon Hawkins
Ottawa Sun
Thursday, September 17, 1998

Being the distant relative of legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes is enough to intrigue any budding detective, but for 14-year-old Meredith Henderson, it's all in a day's work.

Henderson stars in the hit YTV series, The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, as the mystery loving teen detective with the inherited itch for crime solving.

"What can I say, she loves a good mystery, just like her great-grand uncle," says Henderson.

Playing the tenacious teen detective is one part of the character Henderson fell in love with from the start.

"She's really enriched my life. I end up having two families -- one at home and one with the cast across the country," she says.

The young star is quickly becoming accustomed to being in the spotlight with two projects already in her portfolio, the film SongSpinner and TV series Goosebumps. But being a teen star is still a little intimidating for Henderson, especially when she's back in school with her friends and Grade 10 classmates.

"When I get asked for autographs it's sometimes kind of awkward. I don't really know what to say to kids my age," she reveals.

This is the third year the Orleans teen has dusted off her magnifying glass and trademark deerstalker hat to play the role of great-grand niece to the legendary Holmes.

"I really like her, she's sort of a feminist," says Henderson. "She doesn't go with the crowd, she does and wears whatever she wants."

And that self-determination doesn't stop with her character. Henderson is quickly adopting some of Holmes' character traits in her personal life. "It's really weird cause there is no Shirley and me anymore, the lines are blurred," she says.

Henderson feels the only true difference left between herself and her alter ego is in the way they speak.

"She uses big words and I like to keep it simple."

When Henderson took up her role in The Adventures of Shirley Holmes her character was very shy and demure, but now three years later, she's starting to grow up and discover what it's like in the real world.

"She was very introverted in the beginning," says Henderson. "But now she actually has a life."

As Shirley grows up so will the show's themes. This season she'll start dating and be in high school with her sidekicks Bo Sawchuk (her Dr. Watson) and Stink Patterson, the class clown.

Shirley first started her sleuth work after discovering an old family trunk in her grandmother's attic, a legacy left by her famous relative.

Shirley was the first Holmes to successfully decode the trunk and inherit her uncle's famous cape, deerstalker hat, pipe and violin.

Using the tricks of the trade, this year the Holmes trademark curiosity will lead Shirley into some very strange circumstances.

"She ends up on a dude ranch, infiltrates a gang and helps to sell a farm," giggles Henderson.

But most importantly for the young detective she will solve the mystery behind her mother's disappearance in Rwanda years before.

The case has left the budding sleuth stumped for years.

"I'm really looking forward to her finally solving this mystery. She'll finally be able to move on," says Henderson.