Sherlock without Benedict Cumberbatch? The very thought would probably have any self-respecting Sherlock fan out in hives but the actor has admitted the unthinkable: that he was initially reluctant to take on the role.
In an interview with a US magazine Entertainment Weekly to publicise this Sunday’s airing of the third season on US public service network PBS he said: "My reservation was ‘Well, this is a very iconic character, there will be a lot of attention on it.
“This was before I had had any significant success [but] I knew there would still be a lot of focus on it. And while I had done work, it wasn't stepping into the populist limelight like playing a character like Holmes. So I did have a pause for thought."
Asked why he agreed to take the role he said: "I thought, ‘If I'm going to do this, if I'm going to step into the limelight with a large leading role of iconic status, then I might as well do it with these people.
"They know what they're doing and I completely trust them. I felt like I was being asked to join the family and have some fun. There was nothing businessy about it. And that's how to operate it."
The third series of Sherlock will air tomorrow in the US at 10pm Eastern Standard Time, just after Downton Abbey.