What can we deduce from Sherlock and John’s Victorian photo shoot?

Paul Jones puts the new picture of Holmes and Watson under the microscope and sifts the clues...

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Don’t panic, the Sherlock special doesn’t involve Holmes and Watson being ambushed by a criminal gang of maths obsessed archers (as far as I know). This is in fact my attempt to put the new image from the Victorian-set episode under the microscope and see what I can deduce from it. I’m no Sherlock Holmes but I have spotted certain points of interest…

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1, 2 The Watson flair

Even in sober Victorian times, it seems you can’t stop JW from expressing his individuality. Dr Watson’s colourful striped tie – complete with shiny tie-pin – and red patterned handkerchief are the 19th century equivalent of modern-day John’s famous Christmas jumpers – and might just be a sly little suggestion that this will indeed be a seasonal Sherlock special. It would definitely be a deduction too far though, if I said the speckled handkerchief referred to another classic Holmes adventure… wouldn’t it…? (Yes, it definitely would)

3 A proper moustache

We’ve already been treated to a look at Dr Watson’s elegantly waxed moustache but it’s worth mentioning it again, if only to appreciate how much better it looks than the caterpillar-like effort of The Empty Hearse. You know, the one that prompted Sherlock to comment “We’ll have to get rid of that… I can’t be seen walking around with an old man.” In this case, I think it’s safe to say John won’t be shaving for Sherlock…

4 Watch this space

No self-respecting Victorian gentleman would be seen without his trusty fob watch but it’s just possible this one could have a story behind it. A famous scene in Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of Four sees Holmes demonstrating his skills by analysing a pocket-watch given to him by Dr Watson. When he correctly deduces that the owner – who turns out to have been Watson’s brother – was a chronic alcoholic, Watson gets very angry, believing Holmes to have cheated (luckily for him, the Victorians were generally too reserved to go around head-butting each other)

5 Did he put a ring on it?

Dr Watson’s wedding ring finger is cunningly hidden in this shot so we don’t know for sure – in this Victorian version of events – whether he’s married to Mary or not. Amanda Abbington does appear in the adventure, though, so if it takes place before their wedding there’s a chance it could be based on the previously mentioned Sign of Four, which is when they first meet (and is the only story to feature Mary in any significant way). I’m still putting my money on The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, of course, which is a favourite of Mark Gatiss’s and the only Sherlock Holmes tale set at Christmas… 

6 Cheekbones

Yep, still there. Those things are timeless

7 Shorn-locks Holmes

Benedict Cumberbatch must be pleased. He’s made it clear in the past that (unlike a million Japanese teenaged girls) he’s not a fan of Sherlock’s luxuriant curls and likes his hair short. Of course, a Victorian Holmes as described by Conan Doyle and illustrator Sidney Paget could never have anything other than this slicked-back do

8 Little white tie lies?

In The Reichenbach Fall, a grumpy Sherlock tells John in no uncertain terms, “I don’t wear ties.” But what’s this? Sure, it’s worn as just a knot – like one of the cool kids at school – but it’s a tie alright. It’s almost as if you can’t trust everything Sherlock says…

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9 Armchair detective

A lot of Sherlock’s consulting is done on his feet (although half the time that’s because he’s trying to get people to go away). But although the original Holmes could be a bit of a pacer himself, most of his initial interviews with clients were done in an armchair in front of the fire, with Watson listening in and providing kind words (the human bit). Judging by this pic, that could well be the set up in the Sherlock special, too


Read more:

Mark Gatiss: The Sherlock special is the first time Steven Moffat and I have written together

Louise Brealey on the Sherlock special: Benedict and Martin in Victorian costume “just felt right”

Sherlock and Irene Adler meet up every six months for “a night of passion” reveals Steven Moffat