Gattis, Moffat, Cumberbatch and Freeman on the second series of Sherlock plus air date
BBC interviews with the head writers and main stars:
It’s a different feeling, being back for a second series, says Steven: “Last time nobody knew about us and there was some scepticism about ‘modernising’ Sherlock Holmes. And now look at Benedict and Martin, they are so famous in those roles! So far the series has sold in over 180 countries worldwide, so it’s a very big change.”
The big challenge in that case has to be – how do you follow such a success?
“Well this year, knowing we were a huge hit, I suppose we felt let’s do the three big things, The Woman, the Hound and the Fall.”
“Instead of making people wait years and years, we thought – to hell with deferred pleasure, let’s just do it now, more, sooner, faster!”
“That also means we see three different sides to Sherlock. We have Sherlock and love, Sherlock and fear and Sherlock and death. He definitely goes through the mill in this new series.”
Steven who fell in love with Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books as a child says he and co-creator Mark Gatiss are the biggest Sherlock Homes fans.
“We are the biggest Sherlock Holmes geeks in the world. This has become such an enormous international hit, it’s sort of preposterous, it’s like our vanity project, it’s our hobby. And yet everybody has joined in!”
In response to suggestions that there should have been more than three episodes, Steven says:
“We think of them as films because they are ninety minutes long and once we knew we weren’t doing hour long episodes they needed to be on that sort of scale. They have to have the size and weight of a movie.”
As to how he feels the two series compare, Steven explains
“I think the first series was more about John Watson being redeemed from being a massively traumatised war veteran into a bit of a hero. This year it’s more about the forging of the mighty Sherlock Holmes.”
And as to what it is that make the stories so enduring, Steven adds
“We’ve almost forgotten how good the characters of these stories are. They’re not just an old artefact that has become, by accident, venerated. They are in my opinion, without a doubt, the biggest hit in fiction, since their launch over a 100 years ago in the Strand Magazine, it’s now a hit movie series and a hit television series right now and its down to the characters who are perfect, they are brilliant.”
I was thrilled with how the first series of Sherlock was received,” says Benedict, commenting on the response to the first series of his contemporary consulting detective. “It was such great fun to film, which makes it so rewarding when something you enjoy, is so well received.”
It wasn’t just the viewing audience that took a liking to Benedict’s reimagining of Sherlock, he became something of a style icon:
“The coat was interesting, because there is so much about Sherlock in the original Conan Doyle books, that is modern, so the hardest thing to get right were the clothes and how to dress him for a contemporary audience and what should the silhouette be.
“The coat was Ray Holman’s, the costume designer’s idea. Sherlock’s suits have a clean, linear, perfunctory beauty about them, there’s nothing showy or flamboyant. They’re very well cut, functional but still very stylish and I think that sums up Sherlock perfectly.”
There is plenty of humour in this series, a lot of which stems from Sherlock and John working out each other as friends and how to live with each other’s personalities.
“I think the humour comes out of new situations rather than their relationship. Without giving anything away, there are some very nice moments in the new series and of course there is the comedy of John reprimanding Sherlock. John knows now, what he’s dealing with in Sherlock, he’s accepting of his friend, I think in this series, what we see more of is John having to explain it to other people.”
Much has been made of the relationship with Sherlock and John Watson, so to dispel any speculation the writers kick off episode one with a love interest, Irene Adler.
“Yes, the last series played on that quite a few times, with two men living together, and so many people getting it wrong. But episode one presents a very definite female presence in the form of Irene Adler, and she is more than a match for Sherlock. It’s really nice to have a female counterpart.
“Irene Adler is someone who has an incredible amount of power. She’s very beautiful, very smart and intelligent, quick-thinking and resourceful. She’s got a lot of attributes that mirror Sherlock and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, Steven and Mark are very clear though, this is Sherlock ‘and’ Love, not Sherlock ‘in’ Love. But viewers can expect a lot of flirtation!”
Benedict outlines what the audience can expect in the three new titles:
“With series two we wanted to move the characters on, but at the same time you want to tick some of the boxes that made the first series so popular. Now, John and Sherlock are established as a team, there are still a few ‘I can’t believe he’s doing that’ moments, but on the whole they form a united front. The characters are evolving, and they’re facing some of their biggest challenges yet. I think if anything has changed, he (Sherlock) is gaining humanity.”
And as for what the audience can look forward to watching in series two.
“I think the audience can expect three incredibly different films. The first episode is going to be about the heart, whatever that may be for Sherlock. The second episode is about horror and suspense and the third is going to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster and a thriller, so expect love, horror and thrills!”
“We’re very excited about the new series, says Mark Gatiss and the choice of three stories fell quite naturally into place. The obvious follow-up was to cover the three most famous Conan Doyle books and I’m really thrilled with them, I have to say.”
Known to viewers as Mycroft, Sherlock’s steely, mysterious older brother, Mark is also responsible for writing this series’ episode two, The Hounds Of Baskerville, arguably, Conan Doyle’s most famous book, Mark discusses setting about updating such a classic.
“My idea for Baskerville was, as ever, to look for the ‘modern’. So rather than setting it in a spooky old house, I wanted to find the sort of thing that frightens us today. We’re still a very credulous species but we tend to be more afraid of secret goings-on and conspiracy theories. So I thought, what about a scary weapons research place out on Dartmoor? Where secret animal experimentation or something similarly terrible was taking place.”
“The reputation of the story was obviously a challenge”, says Mark, “it’s the most famous and best-loved of them all. No pressure! At its heart, though, it’s a horror story and horror is a big part of the appeal of Sherlock Holmes. I wanted to make it the scariest version there’s ever been. Trying to work that out almost killed me!”
Mark, a lifelong Conan Doyle fan, sheds some light on what he thinks it is that appeals to people about Sherlock
“He’s a mass of contradictions and that makes him fascinating. He’s cold, aloof, arrogant, dangerous, therefore, absolutely magnetically attractive. It works in real life as well, but ultimately people would not remember Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson if Conan Doyle had not been a genius writer, what he created was pure gold. It’s precisely because of those things that we love them.”
With viewing figures of over nine million and having sold in over 180 countries worldwide, it’s fair to say Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, have introduced a whole new audience to Sherlock Holmes.
Mark says: “The most wonderful and moving thing that happened to me throughout the whole series, was getting a letter from a woman whose son was profoundly dyslexic, who had never read a book in his life and he’s now read all of the Conan Doyle books. The entire canon of Sherlock Holmes is fantastic and sales of the old stories have gone up and I couldn’t think of anything more brilliant than for people to be pointed back towards Doyle, who is the well spring of all of this. And still a criminally under-rated genius writer.”
“It was beyond all of our wildest dreams’, says Martin, talking about the response to the first series of Sherlock.
“We hoped it would be well-received and as popular with viewers as it was with us. We loved making it and are very proud of it, but beyond that it’s out of your control as to how people will view it, so the response was great.”
A large part of the success of the show, is the great partnership and relationship between Sherlock and John Watson, from their first meeting to sharing a flat together at 221b Baker Street, Martin goes on to explain how the relationship has evolved and what to expect in series two.
“By the end of the first series you saw John and Sherlock’s relationship moving on, John went from being merely ‘agog’ at everything Sherlock did to being just miffed at some of his actions. That takes a step further in the new series and I would say it is definitely a partnership now, with Sherlock being the main thrust, but John is only half a step behind, as opposed to six steps behind.”
John Watson, famously is written as a bit of a ladies man, so what will he make of Sherlock’s love interest in episode one:
“John thinks Sherlock would be much healthier if he had a relationship with a human being as opposed to a theory or something. John in the interim, according to the writers, he’s had a number of girlfriends, so I think he’d like Sherlock to do the same. I think it makes Sherlock more human in John’s eyes.”
In terms of what the audience can expect from John Watson this series, Martin explains:
“Well, John is not about to start doing deductions, but you kind of need John there, what he brings to ‘the game’ isn’t the same as Sherlock, but it’s kind of useful doing, as Mycroft says with disdain, ‘the legwork’. John can do different legwork to Sherlock, but he’ll do it all the same. It’s pretty much more of that really, I mean there’s only so much you can develop John’s role in the deduction because then it’s not Sherlock anymore. it has to be primarily about him, and that’s the only way to do it, with John as backup.
“All that I require, as an actor, and as an audience, is that it’s good backup, that it’s interesting and it’s three-dimensional, because otherwise I can’t see the point of being here, and I certainly wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t interesting.”
Martin describes one of his most memorable moments about Sherlock was arriving on set for the first time:
“I remember the first time I went on set, there was this beautiful slightly shambling, slightly chaotic, but classically designed room, that you can believe is a Victorian room. There are a lot of houses in London that look a bit eccentric, they’re a mish-mash of designs and periods, and it’s completely believable.”
In terms of what it is about the Sherlock and John relationship that people love so much, Martin suggests:
“I think people just like seeing friendship. I think people like seeing people who just drive each other up the wall, but at same time, can’t live without each other. You see it in Waiting For Godot and Steptoe And Son, that’s everything, especially involving two blokes who want to kill each other, but ultimately, where else are they going to go?”
Kicking off Sunday 1st of January at 8:10, BBC 1, Sherlock returns with A Scandal In Belgravia. Official synopsis for the first episode of the second series:
In episode one of this new series, compromising photographs and a case of blackmail threaten the very heart of the British establishment but, for Sherlock and John, the game is on in more ways than one as they find themselves battling international terrorism, rogue CIA agents and a secret conspiracy involving the British government. But this case will cast a darker shadow over their lives than they could ever imagine, as the great detective begins a long duel of wits with an antagonist as cold and ruthless and brilliant as himself: to Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler will always be THE woman.
Benedict Cumberbatch returns as Sherlock Holmes, with Martin Freeman as John Watson, Mark Gatiss as Mycroft, Rupert Graves as Inspector Lestrade, Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson, Andrew Scott as Moriarty, Louise Brealey as Molly Hooper and Lara Pulver as Irene Adler.