Sherlock is on its way back to the air waves with its fourth three-episode season, with more cases, characters and catastrophes for Sherlock and Watson to crack.
The super sleuths were most recently seen in last New Years Day’s ‘The Abominable Bride’, which saw a mish-mash between the shows revamped modern setting and its Victorian roots. Whilst it gave fans many answers to the cliff-hangers of the third season, with Sherlock, there is always another conundrum to solve. However, this time Watson looks set to tackle the greatest conundrum of them all: parenthood!
Of course, with a new season comes new interviews. Thanks to the BBC, there’s a lot to unpack moving forward as fans await the January 1st, 2017 airdate of the first episode, ‘The Six Thatchers’.
First in these new interviews is Sherlock himself Benedict Cumberbatch as he talks about being back in the every day, working with animals and children and his multi-layer character…..
How does it feel to put Sherlock’s famous coat back on after being in Victorian costume?
It’s lovely putting the famed coat back on again, as opposed to the starched collar and the morning suit, but at the same time, we were filming in the middle of summer so it was quite hot every time I put on the coat! It’s part of who he is, part of his kit and his armour.
How do we find Sherlock, John and Mary at the start of series four?
There are a lot of new things going on, for example there’s a baby! So parenting responsibilities have kicked in for the super sleuths! Childcare is never easy but it gets even more complicated when crime’s involved.
John and Mary are new parents, how does Sherlock feel about that?
I think Sherlock feels very protective towards them as a family, but he’s not a natural or a figure of authority when it comes to a new-born. I hope my skills and interaction with my own are a little bit more engaged than his are! He’s seemingly indifferent which is comic at times but it’s all underpinned with a deep love and he’s a guardian angel really.
How did you go about creating your version of Sherlock Holmes?
Sherlock isn’t just Sherlock, he was a baby, then a child, then an adolescent, then a young adult, and then the 30-year-old that you met in Series One, Episode One. We know he’s got a brother called Mycroft and parents but what the hell was his childhood really like? I wanted to know all that information very early on because you’re playing the most adapted and greatest fictional detective of all time. You need to have a back story to work off as an actor because what are you doing other than emulating certain airs and graces and mannerisms. What I try to do is underpin all those decisions with an informed understanding of who my character is.
What is so appealing about playing the character of Sherlock?
Whatever scale I’m working on as an actor it’s about telling interesting stories and just losing myself in an experience. There’s a degree of comfort in coming back to something you know, it’s nice getting the band back together and playing certain aspects of him. I don’t return to roles very much, even this has only been twelve episodes and one special so far, we haven’t made that many.
The scale of Sherlock is always, in ambition, as big as anything on any other kind of format. The final rendering of what we produce is very filmic and very high quality and that’s saying something because it’s not only low budget when it comes to what designers in every department have to work with in comparison to a big film but it’s also the amount of time we have to perfect it in.
They say never work with children or animals, in series four you work with both, how did you find it?
We had an interesting dog in the first episode. He was very sweet but was a bit afraid of being in the centre of town, afraid of too many people and not great on hard surfaces. We were in Borough Market, with lots of people around, on concrete and tarmac. Cut to Amanda literally pulling a bloodhound around London who was supposed to pull her around London. That was fun.
The babies have been pretty amazing, I’m a father and I know how difficult it is to get anything in tune with a baby’s schedule. It keeps you in the moment and it stops you being precious about your work. I love those elements that make it more difficult.
How much of Sherlock’s temperament is driven by the apparent inadequacies of others rather than his own desire for perfection?
Oddly, I think Sherlock’s temperament is more shaped by the fact that he is human and trying to be superhuman. The amount of stuff that we call polite civilisation is a huge distraction to this man who has to think on an unparalled level of complexities. It’s not really that the world is stupid it’s just that for him to be clever he has to really drown out a lot of noise and what he permanently gets surprised by, and what I think is his real weakness, is sometimes not seeing what’s right in front of him. His blind spot is the very thing that he purposely turns his head from in order to be as good as he is as a sleuth. So it’s a complex relationship he has with the world. He needs it to be that way in order to conquer it but at the same time the way he engages with it often blinds him to the most obvious. That’s great from a story point of view because people don’t see things because he doesn’t see them. His stupidity is also the world’s brilliance which is why there are things, people, and events, which overtake him. He’s not unhuman, he is human and he is fallible.
The production shows no signs of slowing down, projecting a large scale yet simultaneously rooted in family values. After all, Cumberbatch described the high ambition and filmic quality of the show, and is exciting to know that this will not be lost. What is particularly comforting is the familiarity of Sherlock and that his ‘human’ and ‘fallible’ qualities will peak through his cutting intellect once again, and no doubt Watson’s new position as a father will aid Sherlock in occasionally engaging with his softer side.
Series 4 premieres Sundays starting January 1st on BBC One at 8:30pm and PBS Masterpiece (TBC).
One mysterious case in particular baffles Scotland Yard – but Sherlock is more interested in a seemingly trivial detail. Why is someone destroying images of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? Is there a madman on the loose? Or is there a much darker purpose at work? Something with its roots deep in Mary Watson’s past…
“Sherlock” is written and created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, and inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock is produced by Sue Vertue and the executive producers are Beryl Vertue, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for Hartswood Films, Bethan Jones for BBC Cymru Wales and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece. It is distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide.