When Sherlock returns to our screens in the coming months, its newest cast member may look familiar...
Amanda Abbington - the real-life partner of Martin Freeman - has confirmed she will play Mary Morstan, Dr Watson's fictional other half, when she appears in the third series of the BBC's detective drama. But when her casting was announced earlier this year, Abbington was subject to backlash from the show's ardent fanbase who have become rather attached to Freeman and co-star Benedict Cumberbatch's double act.
As series three inches closer, the Mr Selfridge actress has been talking about her experiences on set with Freeman and Cumberbatch, and the "scary" realisation that she would be coming between detective duo Sherlock and Watson...
"I remember doing a scene very early on with Martin and Ben, and I was standing in between them and I thought, 'I really have to up my game, this is proper'. They really bounce off each other," she told The Scotsman.
“When I was at the read-through, I remember watching them, and the chemistry between them is just amazing. They do have this beautiful relationship, so getting in between that – which is what Mary does, she becomes this kind of third wheel – was scary. Also, the fans love these two together, so I’m sure Mary won’t be particularly liked by them, but I hope that on the whole people really like her, because she’s a great character and she has some fantastic secrets.”
Abbington, who was recently on screens in BBC cop drama, Case Histories, also revealed that co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat wrote the part of Mary Morstan specifically for her:
“We were at Mark Gatiss’s house when The Hounds Of Baskerville first came on the telly," she recalled. "Afterwards they went into the kitchen and were sitting talking about the next series. I went in and sat with them. It had been mooted that I would be in it, might have a little part in it. They were talking about who might play Mary and I was like, ‘So, who are you thinking of?’ and they said ‘You’.”
The British actress, who first met Freeman on the set of television movie Men Only before he found fame on The Office, Sherlock and most recently The Hobbit, also admitted her own partiality when it came to her partner's acting abilities.
“He’s one of my favourite actors,” she revealed. “I’m biased but it’s true. Watching him work is brilliant – every take he does something different. He’s a really good actor and he’s a really good person to have on set because he makes everyone feel relaxed. I learned a lot from Martin.”