Head to head: Sherlock – it’s a love/hate thing…

Do you love or loathe BBC1's consulting detective? Two writers thrash it out. Which one gets your vote?

Laura Pledger on why she loves it:


“Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.” I’ve been telling myself that sternly for days, but it’s no good. Sherlock has gone, and I’m as bereft as John Watson.

What a jewel Sherlock is, its snappy dialogue sparkling brightly, its cleverly crafted storylines dazzling in their brilliance. It is that rare TV phenomenon, a series that – rather like its hero – makes no concessions to stupidity. When the game is on, the pace never slackens.

I’m a crime connoisseur (the armchair variety, not the Moriarty sort) and I can honestly say that Sherlock stands head and shoulders above the rest of its kind. At new year, I watched A Scandal in Belgravia and then, straight after, Morse prequel Endeavour. The verdict? Endeavour must try harder.

As with any eponymous series, Sherlock stands or falls on the quality of its lead actor. Much has been written about Benedict Cumberbatch’s charms and you wouldn’t need the observational powers of Sherlock Holmes to tell I was lying if I said I was immune. But anyone dismissing Cumberbatch as a mere “fangirl favourite” would be doing this fine actor a great disservice.

With supreme elegance he captures all of Holmes’s impatience, arrogance and tortured genius. Yet he leaves enough of a chink in that coldly logical armour to allow us to glimpse the vulnerability Holmes struggles to admit to himself but that his friends recognise only too well. It’s a potent combination.

We face a bit of a wait for the third series, but there’s plenty to occupy our minds in the meantime. How did Sherlock survive The Fall? Which stories might the writers adapt next time round? How soon can we buy cinema tickets for The Hobbit?

One thing’s for sure, whatever happens to us between now and the start of series three, we fans will look back on our Sherlock-less interlude and quote our hero thus: “Well, that was tedious.”

Jacqueline Wheeler on why she hates it:

I’ve just watched Sherlock and I feel queasy. As far as I can judge, a group of over-excited kids are running amok at the BBC, grabbing every “clever” effect, every digital gimmick they can lay hands on and plastering them across the screen. Worse, they’ve got hold of the camera, too. It’s up, it’s down, it’s sideways on. It’s nothing short of frenzied.

If you want to get to know someone, you stand still, listen to what they’ve got to say, find out what makes them tick. TV gives us a close-up view so we can form a special bond. When we’re intrigued by a character we want to meet them again and again.

All I know about this incarnation of Conan Doyle’s literary creation is he’s destined for chronic neck pain with his head perpetually at that odd, slightly cocked angle. Benedict Cumberbatch is an excellent actor but he obviously had to come up with a memorable mannerism to help you remember who he was playing because, when a script is all quips and no lines, there’s not much to hold onto.

As I felt I was watching not a drama, but a trailer for something hopefully more promising, I soon lost interest in the plot and reflected on updating Sherlock at all.

A hundred years ago, without DNA testing and computer technology, Sherlock came across as pretty brainy. As this version is set in the 21st century, deducing that dog hairs on clothing indicates the person owns a dog seems a touch amateur.

Having Sherlock jabbering out his thoughts isn’t dignified either, and doesn’t fill you with awe. You just want to recommend a good therapist. In the meantime, call in the Scenes of Crime Officers.

The minds behind Sherlock were greedy for the name but don’t care for the thing itself. Conan Doyle’s stories are all about smoggy atmospheres and the dark implications of a repressed Victorian society that lingered on into the Edwardian period, picked over by the chilly, composed genius of the great detective himself. It’s mood and it’s character. Without these, Sherlock is nothing.


Sherlock series 2 is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray now