Just over a decade ago, BBC detective drama Sherlock reinvented Arthur Conan-Doyle’s sleuth for a new generation – and to mark the ten-year anniversary, the series’ creators have answered fans’ lingering questions about the adventures of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes and Martin Freeman’s Watson.
Before you ask, no, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Sue Vertue didn’t talk about the prospect of a season five – a quick “stay tuned” from Gatiss at the end was as close as they came to an acknowledgement of any future episodes – but they did note that there were still plenty of Holmes stories that they’d be curious about adapting.
“Mark’s always wanted to do the Red-Headed League,” noted Steven Moffat, referring to a short story where a man is mysteriously given advantages based solely on the colour of his hair. “I can’t think why….while he’s still got some red hair.
“Also it’s very tempting but the Speckled Band is completely useless to us on Sherlock somehow,” he continued, noting that the classic locked-room murder mystery was a personal favourite. “It’s a brilliant story. But what do you do with it?”
“There’s lots and lots aren’t there still?” Gatiss said. “Lots of amazing stories – bits of stories that are very appealing.”
“So many ideas in there – we probably remain quiet on the ones that we’re really quite interested in,” added Moffat.
Notably, Moffat and Gatiss said they were particularly intrigued by some stories that had great set-ups but then petered out, noting that some other adaptations had done well to make them more exciting.
“There’s a genre of Sherlock Holmes story that starts brilliantly, and obviously someone comes to the door and suggests to Sir Arthur that maybe a game of cricket is in the offing, and he just dashes an ending rather quickly,” Moffat said. “Five Orange Pips and the Engineer’s Thumb both fall foul of that. But they’ve got great beginnings!
“Sometimes it’d be interesting to extract those ideas and maybe…the Jeremy Brett series did a brilliant job on The Greek Interpreter. Which is one of those stories that starts fantastically and sort of disappears…sort of stops. And they added a better, more exciting ending to it.”
“The Adventure of the Priory School, they have a big climax in the caves which is really good – it sort of gives it a scale which the story just doesn’t have,” added Gatiss.
“All those things are out there to be played with, I think,” Moffat concluded. “That’s good.”
Of course, it remains to be seen whether they’ll ever actually be played with onscreen, with the pair previously saying there were “no immediate plans” for Sherlock to be revived.
But if it ever does come back, at least we know there are plenty more ideas to be played with, and mysteries to be solved – even if that is sometimes The Adventure of the Missing Ending.
You can check out the full Q&A with Gatiss and Moffat above, in which they also discuss their dream casting for a female Sherlock and Watson (spoiler alert – Michelle Gomez is in there), how Sherlock would have handled lockdown as well as some of the biggest challenges in making the series.
Sherlock is available to stream on BBC iPlayer