Remember the time Nessie met Sherlock Holmes? In Billy Wilder’s 1970 film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, the detective travels to the wilds of Scotland to investigate a mystery, and comes face to face with Scotland’s greatest icon. Since the real Nessie is notoriously camera-shy, the filmmakers constructed a 30ft-long Loch Ness Monster, towed it out into the loch…and watched in dismay as it sank. But now, thanks to modern technology, we’ve found Nessie!
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes featured Sir Robert Stephens as Holmes, Colin Blakely as Dr. Watson and Sir Christopher Lee (!!!) as Mycroft (!!!) in a much more adult adventure that contrasted the “real” Holmes with the image Watson creates through his stories. Since the story actually features Nessie prominently, a prop needed to be made, and special effects artist Wally Veevers (who also worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey and Superman) created a large Nessie model. But the size and heaviness of the prop spelled its doom. According to the BBC:
The model was built with a neck and two humps and taken alongside a pier for filming of portions of the film in 1969. The director did not want the humps and asked that they be removed, despite warnings I suspect from the rest of the production that this would affect its buoyancy. And the inevitable happened. The model sank.”
And so Nessie remained at the bottom of Loch Ness (possibly confusing the real Nessie) in a lonely maritime afterlife, until a new effort was made to survey the depths of the loch. Kongsberg Maritime, a Norwegian company, has partnered with VisitScotland and Loch Ness Project head Adrian Shine, to use sonar imaging to create maps of the loch, and turned up this image:
This is almost certainly the prop… but if it suddenly swims away and turns out to be the real Nessie, we’ll let you know.