BBC1 viewers met Sherlock Holmes’s parents tonight and – unbeknown to many – were simultaneously introduced to Benedict Cumberbatch’s real mum and dad.
Wanda Ventham, 78, and Timothy Carlton (real name Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch), 74, appeared in the much-anticipated first episode of series three of Sherlock in a short scene that saw them having tea with the consulting detective in the sitting room of his Baker Street flat.
It finally became clear that the rather ordinary-sounding elderly couple were in fact Sherlock’s parents as he made increasingly impatient attempts to usher them out of the room.
But despite Sherlock’s reaction to his folks turning up at his place, Cumberbatch himself says the experience was a moving one.
“I nearly cried watching it,” the star told an audience at a premiere screening of the episode in December. “I’m so proud of them and I’m so proud of the reaction they got – and I think they’re perfect casting as my parents!”
Cumberbatch said filming the scenes had been both stressful and rewarding for himself and the two veteran actors. "It was kind of nerve-wracking. They’re actors, and they get nervous as well, and yet they were brilliant, they hit home runs, they were fantastic and it was lovely – really, really nice – to have them on set... It was really gorgeous, a very special feeling."
Sherlock Holmes’s mother and father remain a mystery in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss admitted the decision to introduce them was a bold one.
“This is really the first time we’ve ever gone beyond [the original stories],” said Gatiss. “I don’t know if Sherlock Holmes’s parents have ever been shown [in a dramatisation] and it felt like the right thing to do in the third season, to be even cheekier. Why not?”
Sherlock: The Sign of Three is at 8:30pm on Sunday 5 January on BBC1