After transposing Arthur Conan Doyle’s Great Detective to present-day London, fans assumed that Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ next project – another literary adaptation, this time of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire tale Dracula – would provide a similar update.
However, from the off Moffat and Gatiss firmly denied they’d bring the Count to the 21st century, insisting that it had never really crossed their minds to remove him from his original setting.
“It didn’t really occur to us,” Moffat told RadioTimes.com. “By that stage, that didn’t seem to be the important thing about Sherlock, either. People stopped talking about the contemporary setting of Sherlock a second after it started showing. Nobody bothered about that again.
“So it’s not about that. It’s about grabbing hold of one of those characters that has survived for over a hundred years, who can be interpreted in all these different ways.”
But as rumours continue that Dracula could continue for a second series (“It’s very hard to kill a vampire… what they do is resurrect,” Gatiss teased when asked by RadioTimes.com), we can’t help but wonder if they’re telling the whole truth. After all, once they’ve finished with the material in Stoker’s novel, where could they take the story next if not forward in time, with the immortal Count living through later time periods?
In other words, who’s to say that a second series couldn’t pick up Dracula’s story in the present day (assuming he doesn’t stop off in the swingin’ 60s first), meaning we get a modern version after all?
Sure, Moffat and Gatiss have denied it – and it seems clear from what we’ve seen that the first series will be set in the Stoker’s original time period – but who can forget their similar insistence that 2016 Sherlock special The Abominable Bride was entirely a period reimagining of their version of the sleuth, with no connection to the main series? In the end, some fans’ predictions that the Victorian setting would be some sort of dream sequence proved to be correct, and we did return to modern Sherlock by the end of the episode. Who’s to say modern-day Dracula isn’t being held back as a similar secret for the end of this series’ third episode?
After all, Moffat himself has admitted that he and Gatiss haven’t been entirely honest about their new adaptation, telling press on a set visit that the pair of them had ‘pretended’ that certain creative choices weren’t in their plans when they actually were.
Director Olly Campbell, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat with star John Heffernan (BBC)
“There are things that we’re doing that we’ll pretend we’re not doing – and then we are,” Moffat told us. “There’s fun to be had in not being clear.
“So let the familiar elements arrive in their unexpected ways.”
In point of fact, the one thing the pair have consistently denied in the run-up to the series’ release is that they plan to modernise Dracula, so it’s just possible this is one of the “things” Moffat is referring to. And given that we more or less know that the late Victorian setting will be locked in for this series, it stands to reason that it could be any episodes beyond that that bring the Count bang up to date.
Of course, it could be that Gatiss and Moffat genuinely have no intention beyond adapting Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the time period it was originally set. There might not even be another series, after all, and even if Claes Bang’s bloodsucker lives on the series could carry on chronologically to introduce him to the early 20th century (or even the roaring 20s).
But there’s something about this theory that we just can’t help but believe – even if it is just a wish to see a suave Dracula using an iPhone – so maybe don’t Count it out just yet…
Dracula begins on BBC One on Wednesday 1st January at 9pm