Martin Clunes wants to extend his upcoming role as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for a full series, with the Sherlock Holmes creator continuing as a detective in his own right.
The Men Behaving Badly and Doc Martin actor plays the Scottish writer in new three-part ITV drama Arthur & George, based on a real-life investigation by Conan Doyle.
But Clunes told RadioTimes.com that he would like to turn the idea into a long-running series in which the writer investigates other crimes.
Clunes, whose mother also happens to be the cousin of celebrated Sherlock Holmes actor Jeremy Brett, said he was waiting on a decision from ITV about making more. “We would certainly like to do them,” he said.
Asked whether Sherlock Holmes fans would object to the fictionalising of the real-life history of Conan Doyle, he added: “There are Sherlock Holmes fans of course but they are not the same as Conan Doyle fans.”
The drama’s producer, Philippa Braithwaite, who is also Clunes’s wife, said that a long-running series could combine real events from the author’s life with fictional elements: “We have only told a few months of Conan Doyle’s life in Arthur & George so there’s so much more there.”
Based on Julian Barnes’s novel of the same name, Arthur & George sees Clunes’s Conan Doyle form a Watson-and-Holmes-style double-act with the writer’s real life secretary Alfred “Woodie” Wood, played by Downton Abbey star Charles Edwards.
The plot focuses on the pair’s attempts to clear George Edalji, a half-Indian solicitor played by Arsher Ali who was imprisoned for a series of bizarre attacks on livestock in a small Staffordshire community in 1903 known as the Great Wyrley outrages.
Arthur & George writer Ed Whitmore revealed that ITV is waiting to see how the three-parter performs before committing to more.
“In a sense both Conan Doyle and Woodie have elements of Sherlock and Doctor Watson, both have aspects of the deductive side and the geniality,” he said. “I think we could do more.”
The ‘Conan Doyle Investigates’ idea is not without precedent. ITV adapted Kate Summerscale’s historical book The Suspicions of Mr Whicher into a drama starring Paddy Considine as the real-life detective investigating a historically-documented crime.
But more episodes were commissioned following the successful first run, with other crimes imagined for the detective after he left the police and worked as a private sleuth.
Arthur & George airs on ITV in March