Sherlock has always been a show that thrives on combining dramatic themes with moments of comedy, and that’s not going to change in the upcoming new series. 

Nevertheless, the cast and crew admit that the “brutal” season four will eventually take Sherlock, John and co to “a darker place” than they’ve ever been before…

“It’s absolutely the same show,” said co-creator Mark Gatiss at a Bafta celebration of Sherlock on Friday evening. “We always have to keep reiterating this hasn’t suddenly become some kind of uber-bleak sort of Scandi-show.”

“It’s quite funny. Actually, it’s really funny,” added Amanda Abbington, who plays John Watson’s wife Mary.

“But there is overall a darker tone,” said Gatiss, with co-creator Steven Moffat agreeing: “it goes to a darker place than I think we’ve gone before”.

Abbington even went as far as to say that this series' heady mix of humour and "brutal" drama make it the best Sherlock yet.

“We as a company got the scripts, and we all got together and said ‘this is brutal’. It’s amazing. I think we, Lou [Brealey, who plays Molly Hooper], me, Una [Stubbs, aka landlady Mrs Hudson], Rupert [Graves, DI Lestrade], Ben [Cumberbatch, Sherlock himself] and Martin [Freeman, John Watson] all decided that this is our favourite series. Definitely, out of all we’ve done.”

Exactly how that brutality and darkness will manifest itself remains to be seen (although we have some thoughts here) but all in all, it sounds like Sherlock fans are in for a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Nothing new there then.

Sherlock series four begins with The Six Thatchers on New Year's Day at 8:30pm on BBC1