Alan Davies reckons he knows how Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock survived his famous plunge at the end of series two finale The Reichenbach Fall – because a similar stunt was featured in an episode of Jonathan Creek.
“I know how he got away with it but I’m not telling you,” Davies told The Evening Standard. “We did a similar thing in an episode of Jonathan Creek when someone jumped off a roof at a party — that’s all I’m saying.”
The story in question was a two-parter called The Problem at Gallows Gate, which aired as part of the mystery drama’s second series in 1998.
It sees a young man leap from a second-floor balcony in front of stunned guests at a house party in the country. He’s pronounced dead at the scene and his body is taken away in an ambulance, but he’s later seen strangling a woman to death. So, clearly, his own death was faked.
How was it done? Jonathan Creek reveals all in the following clip, and we've transcribed his explanation below.
“I’ve given it a bit of thought. Three people saw him jump. Everyone saw him on the ground but nobody saw him land. In between there was a gap of maybe seven or eight seconds, which is when they did the clever bit.
“There’s no way he could have done it on his own. He needed at least two accomplices: one up top, one below.
“Leaping off a second floor balcony’s no big deal if there’s something to catch you at the bottom - if you’ve dug yourself a big hole with a tightly sprung net inside [and] rigged up a camouflage frame covered in turf which slides across in seconds, so you can’t see the join.
“As per the plan, one of [the accomplices] rushes in as he’s about the jump, so if the other [guests] get to the balcony too quickly he can hold them back for a minute, tell them not to look. During which time, [the jumper’s] out of the net and into position.
“The hole’s disappeared and so has his friend, making sure he’s first on the scene to pronounce him dead and wave everyone else away. Half an hour later, he’s whisked off in an ambulance – [the ambulance men] could’ve been a couple of locals who were in on it; could’ve been pukka ambulance drivers who were paid to keep their mouths shut.
“Main thing is, his body’s gone, and no-one asks any questions. They put it all right again afterwards obviously, though you can still see a slight camber where the level’s a bit off.
“And of course there was the dummy blood on the patio, carefully deposited just before he fell, to look fresh. Problem is, you can see from the scalloped edges around the splash marks that it was dropped from a height of several feel.
“And you don’t normally start bleeding before you hit the ground.”
Looking again at Sherlock’s fall, Creek’s explanation seems to tally with certain oddities about the scene.
For instance, Sherlock’s insistence that Watson stays back as he jumps might well have been to conceal an area specially rigged with material to catch the Baker Street detective. After all, we only see a brief glimpse of Sherlock’s body bouncing as he supposedly hits the ground.
The area of pavement on which he’s lying is initially obscured by a truck (which is seen driving off as people rush over to Sherlock’s body), and Watson is knocked to the floor by a cyclist – presumably one of Sherlock’s accomplices - before he can reach his ‘dead’ friend.
There’s also a curiously marked-out bit of the pavement next to Sherlock’s body in this shot from above:
And there are numerous ‘medical staff’ and ‘bystanders’ around to keep Watson from getting too close to the ‘body’ while it’s on the ground, which is similar to what happened in the Jonathan Creek episode.
Could all these events have been part of a deception aiming purely at making Watson believe Sherlock was dead? Quite possibly. Would it be as easy to fake a bit of pavement as it was to create a false bit of turfin Jonathan Creek? Less likely.
So has Alan Davies really let the cat out of the bag? Maybe. Partly. Perhaps. Watch Sherlock's fall below, and make up your own mind...