Steven Moffat: we would never re-cast Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock

"They are the magic, they are the show"

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The question of whether there is more Sherlock in the future is one that has been preoccupying fans since season four’s enigmatic ending, which show creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have admitted was deliberately designed to work as both a jumping off point for potential new adventures and a way to round off the series should it never return.

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Of course, one of the main barriers to making more Sherlock is the increasing unavailability of its stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman who are now huge Hollywood names. So would Sherlock’s writers ever consider re-casting the detective and his friend John Watson if it meant they could make more episodes?

“Absolutely not,” said Moffat. “Under no circumstances.”

Speaking at a special session at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival in celebration of his screenwriting career, Moffat was unequivocal, adding that the “magic” between the two actors that is at the heart of the show has been there since their very first audition together.

“That show is Benedict plus Martin, more than anything – they could get rid of me and Mark first,” said Moffat. “It’s Benedict and Martin, it has to be them.

“That doesn’t mean that there won’t be other Sherlock Holmes – there are already other Sherlocks and other Watsons out there – but this version of Sherlock Holmes is those two actors, it absolutely is. And I know that because I saw it[…] the very first time that Martin and Benedict played those parts together in the audition room.

“I had cast Benedict and we hadn’t cast a Watson yet and in Martin came, the two of them acted together – all the wonderful cinematography and the beautiful score and all that was still in the future but there was the show, there was the show just right there as if my magic, right in front of us, and I leaned over to Mark and said ‘that’s it, that’s the show right there’. You can’t recast that – that’s what it is.”

“Everything else is great,” he continued. “I’m very, very proud of Sherlock. You can admire great cinematography, a great score, great direction, you can admire all those things, but you only fall in love with people – and the people you fall in love with on Sherlock are Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.”

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Not many Sherlock fans would disagree with that.