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"Belly Speaker" is the ninth episode of the first season of the Murdoch Mysteries and the ninth episode of the series. It first aired on March 16, 2008.


Roderick "Roddy" Grimesby, age 45, was a part-time dockworker, full-time drunk, according to the neighbors. An alcoholic drinking him or herself to death is not that unusual, Detective Murdoch asks why was he called? The victim's tongue and throat are swollen and burnt. From the strong aroma, it appears he drank varnish but the bruising suggests it was poured down his throat by a right-handed man.

The dead body was found by his neighbor Stanley Paulk, who was seeking satisfaction since Grimesby was having an affair with his wife– thus the broken door. Mrs. Grimesby has been dead for 15 years, but their son Harcourt visits regularly with food. He did right by the old man according to Paulk, but an unexpected noise from the armoire reveals Harcourt Grimesby, a belly speaker, and his puppet Mycroft hiding within it.

Detective Murdoch is joined in his investigation by Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who has returned to Toronto with the intention to write a new novel based on Murdoch's techniques. He also has an ulterior motive, a far more personal reason for returning to Station House No. 4.

When Murdoch discovers that the puppet "Mycroft" is named for a missing twin brother, Harcourt confesses to the Detective that his parents couldn't afford to keep them both, so his twin Mycroft was given away at birth. They didn't tell him of Mycroft's existence. Harcourt tells Murdoch that he had to find out from Mycroft himself, by accident Mycroft saw a show poster with Harcourt on it and realized he had an identical twin. Wanting him to be a part of the family, Harcourt told Mycroft where their father lived, not knowing he was bent on revenge nor that he would frame his twin for the crime.  Harcourt blames himself to be the reason that his brother lives in a living hell on the streets, so he can't send him to the gallows: "Why was I the one they kept? Why me?"

While Murdoch discovers Mycroft Grimesby has been pulling the strings all along, this episode is one of the few in the series that doesn't quite have the ending we expect nor a satisfying resolution to the Grimesby crimes.

It is a twisted story of a switch of identities: the twin Mycroft Grimesby lived his life as Harcourt, the ventriloquist; apparently he sought revenge on his father for a lifetime of wrongs and perhaps also for his brother's death at 10 years old. Mycroft as Harcourt, told the Detective a story just contradictory enough that it exonerated him, leaving Murdoch and the constabulary to believe that his twin brother, the real killer of his father, is on the run, but they would have searched a lifetime in vain for the other Grimesby twin because he had died 15 years earlier and hidden in the armoire.

The Inspector tells Crabtree he wants "every available man looking for this nut case!" But Mycroft Grimsby disposes of his alter ego, the puppet Mycroft, and disappears into the night.

Character Revelations

  • Murdoch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Grimesby all had/have alcoholic fathers, showing alcoholism knows no boundaries.  
  • Both Grimesby's mother and Murdoch's mother died when they were both very young. 
  • Young Murdoch had an alter ego: a stuffed bear toy named Bear. 
  • Murdoch discovers Conan Doyle is really researching the Haw See Lee murder case because the Chinese medicine man may have the cure for consumption. 
  • Arthur Conan Doyle is traveling extensively to find the cure for consumption (tuberculosis) because, back in England, his wife "Touie" has the fatal disease. 
  • Both Murdoch and Arthur Conan Doyle had/have a loved one with consumption. 


  • Arthur Conan Doyle returns to Station House No. 4 to research a new story about a colonial detective, New World meets Old World, science meets sleuthing. Not one based on the Inspector's idea of the vicious hound that kills the man in the Scottish Highlands for the next Sherlock Holmes' novel (ep.104).
  • When Arthur Conan Doyle asks the Dr. Ogden out to dinner, suggesting French cuisine, Murdoch says there are no French restaurants in Toronto. This may be the reason why Leroux's new French Chef in Unfinished Business is such an event. (See Convalescence for additional French restaurant references).
  • While Arthur Conan Doyle suggests that Murdoch would make a good Alienist (an archaic term for a psychiatrist), it will be Dr. Ogden who pursues that profession in Season 6.

Historical References

  • Genetics, heady stuff: Murdoch read Gregor Mendel's Experiments in Plant Hybridization last July at the beach. "For some light summer reading," adds Dr. Ogden with tongue in cheek.
  • Fred Russell OBE (September 1862 – October 1957) was an English ventriloquist. Usually credited as being the first to use a knee-sitting figure, he is known as "The Father of Modern Ventriloquism". His act, based on the cheeky-boy dummy "Coster Joe", performed at London's Palace Theatre.
  • In anatomy, heterochromia is a difference in coloration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin. Heterochromia is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin (a pigment). It may be inherited, or caused by genetic mosaicism, chimerism, disease, or injury.
  • Consumption, phthisis, scrofula, Pott's disease, and the White Plague are all terms used for tuberculosis throughout history. Little is known about its frequency before the 19th century, its incidence is thought to have peaked between the end of the 18th century and the end of the 19th century. In the 19th century, TB's high mortality rate among young and middle-aged adults and the surge of Romanticism, which stressed feeling over reason, caused many to refer to the disease as the "romantic disease."
  • Cupping is an ancient Oriental treatment for congestion of the lungs. It involves a heated cup placed on the skin to create a partial vacuum. Drawing up the underlying tissues. And after a few moments, the blood is drawn to the surface of the skin.


  • The episode name "Belly Speaker" is a literal translation of the word "ventriloquist", which comes from the Latin words "ventrum" (stomach) and "loquor" (I speak).
  • From the ancient Greek Baal Obh, meaning spirit voices emanating from the ventriloquist's stomach, as mentioned in the script.
  • The ventriloquist's dummy is called Mycroft, the same name that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who appears in this episode) gave to Sherlock Holmes' elder brother.


  • The inspector uses the expression "mad as a box of frogs." This expression was first used in the second half of a the twentieth century, and the events depicted here take place in 1895.
  • When the dummy is insulting Arthur Conan Doyle, Murdoch instructs the police officer to unlock the cell door. He (Murdoch) then strides in, seizes the dummy and walks out. The police officer slams the door shut but does not use the key to lock it again. Since all police cells have deadbolt locks, this would mean that the cell is left unlocked.
  • Throughout, the ventriloquist speaks over the dummy and vice versa. Especially noticeable at the jail argument around 25:15.


Main Cast

Yannick Bisson as William Murdoch
Hélène Joy as Julia Ogden
Thomas Craig as Thomas Brackenreid
Jonny Harris as George Crabtree

Recurring Cast

Geraint Wyn Davies as Arthur Conan Doyle

Guest Cast

Gavin Crawford as Mycroft Grimesby/Harcourt Grimesby
Stephen Jackson as Stanley Paulk
Marilla Wex as Emmy Paulk
Duncan McLeod as Roderick Grimesby
Eric Woolfe Puppeteer


Sherlock Holmes
Louise Hawkins
Liza Milner


Murdoch Mysteries Season 1
"Power" • "The Glass Ceiling" • "The Knockdown" • "Elementary, My Dear Murdoch" • "'Til Death Do Us Part" • "Let Loose the Dogs" • "Body Double" • "Still Waters" • "Belly Speaker" • "Child's Play" • "Bad Medicine" • "The Prince and the Rebel" • "The Annoying Red Planet"
Season 2Season 3Season 4Season 5Season 6Season 7Season 8Season 9Season 10