The A to Z of Sherlock

Everything you need to know about Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman's adventures across two stunning series

A is for Adler, Irene (aka The Woman). The wily dominatrix may have failed to get Sherlock too hot under the collar, but her vital statistics worked a charm on the Daily Mail. (See also N for nudity.)


B is for brother. What Mark Gatiss’s Mycroft lacks in corpulence he more than makes up for with quiet venom. So much so that when he first appeared, I was convinced he was playing Moriarty. (Yes, yes, I know – Sherlock won’t want me for a sidekick any time soon.)

C is for Cumberbatch, Benedict. The flawless actor who makes Sherlock Holmes seem, well, right at home in the 21st century. Also the man whose cheekbones boosted female interest in the next Star Trek movie by, ooh, approximately 1,000 per cent. Before they shot a single frame.

D is for deductions. Holmes’s senses bombard him with information, allowing him to draw startlingly spot-on conclusions. But very occasionally, the audience puts two and two together before the great detective… (see X for Xmas presents).

E is for enemy. And isn’t Jim Moriarty the greatest of them all? As played by Andrew Scott, he’s a twisted, relentless demon and a fine match for Cumberbatch’s Holmes.

F is for Fall, The. If you see a braver, more dramatic, more touching scene all year, it’ll be in real life and you have my deepest sympathies. Meanwhile, let’s save everyone some time and hand the acting awards to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman right now. 

G is for genius. As Sherlock himself remarked in A Study in Pink, genius needs an audience. And happily for the BBC, Sherlock has a big audience.

H is for Hudson, Mrs. Long-suffering landlady (not a housekeeper) more than capable of fooling moronic CIA-trained killers.

I is for Inspector Lestrade. Rupert Graves has played so many rotters, his CV must read like a Jane Austen novel. So it’s nice to see him as the good guy for once; the Scotland Yard detective doggedly doing his best – though he knows his best will never be good enough.

J is for jumping. Something the audience was doing rather a lot during the spookily effective The Hounds of Baskerville.

K is for knowledge. Turns out Sherlock Holmes doesn’t know everything after all. Ask him if the Earth revolves around the sun or the moon. Go on, I dare you.

L is for limp. Not a reference to the plots (though The Blind Banker was a bit ropey), but to Watson’s psychosomatic injury, sustained in Afghanistan, which was miraculously cured by introducing some excitement into his life. Hmm. Perhaps bungee jumping would see off my tension headaches…?

M is for Molly Hooper. Unlike a certain consulting detective I could name, I refuse to make any clever remarks about the sweet-natured lab technician. I love Molly.

N is for nudity. Sherlock may have clocked her measurements, but Benedict Cumberbatch kept his gaze locked on Lara Pulver’s face throughout THAT scene. However, in case he (and we) felt like being less chivalrous after the event, the Daily Mail helpfully published stills showing Irene Adler “in battledress” as it railed against the horrors of a confident, naked woman appearing on screen before the watershed.

O is for observations. Clothes, faces, the TV screen itself become the modern canvas for this 21st century Holmes’s thoughts – at least until he tidies them all away into his “mind palace”.

P is for props. From the skull on the mantelpiece through the test tubes littering the kitchen table to the human head in the fridge, to step inside 221b is to enter another world. Just be grateful you don’t have to do the cleaning.

Q is for quick-fire delivery. Sometimes attempting to follow Sherlock’s lightning-fast reasoning is like trying to catch up with Fenton the dog: doomed to failure. Watching a second time can help to make sense of it. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

R is for rabbit. Which disappeared without the aid of a magician and a hat. From inside a locked cage. Oh, and did I mention the rabbit was luminous? (Cue Twilight Zone music.)

S is for scripts. Remember your windowpanes rattling as you watched A Scandal in Belgravia? That wasn’t a gust of wind. It was the sound of scriptwriters collectively sighing as they realised that the best lines of the year had already been nabbed by 9:40pm on New Year’s Day.

T is for third series. As confirmed by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat on Twitter straight after The Reichenbach Fall, it was commissioned at the same time as series two. I think those two naughty teases can expect a visit from Adler, Irene for some “recreational scolding”. 

U is for unexpected. Thumbs in the fridge, eyes in the microwave. That sort of thing.

V is for violin. You saw Benedict Cumberbatch play, but you heard Bond violinist Eos Chater. “Benedict was a brilliant pupil and an absolute delight to coach,” tweeted Chater in professional mode – before giving the fangirls what they really wanted by blogging about what an all-round talented hottie he is.

W is for Watson, John. Will probably have “I’m not actually gay” engraved on his headstone. Keen blogger, trusted sidekick, loyal friend. And who better to play this saint than Martin Freeman, quite possibly the nicest man on TV?

X is for Xmas presents. And, as Sherlock himself discovered, the less said about those, the better. (See also M for Molly.)

Y is for Y-fronts – which Sherlock was conspicuously not wearing beneath his bed sheet at Buckingham Palace. Consequently it was brother Mycroft who got his knickers in a twist.

Z is for zealot. That doesn’t so much apply to the show as to us, Sherlock’s loyal fans. Now, don’t get coy and deny it. You made it all the way to Z, didn’t you?


We want to hear your suggestions for the Sherlock A-Z. Should B have been for banter or T have stood for three-patch problem? Were we barking not to have H for H.O.U.N.D? Post a comment and let us know…