When Sherlock co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss announced their next project would be an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, fans couldn’t help but wonder if a crossover between Benedict Cumberbatch’s sleuth and Claes Bang’s deadly vampire was imminent.
And while such a meeting of these literary titans doesn’t actually occur in Dracula, there is one small reference to Sherlock Holmes that Gatiss and Moffat slipped into the first episode, and it’s sure to delight fans of both characters.
Specifically, the reference occurs around an hour into the first episode, when it’s implied that some version of Holmes helped track down the family of a missing person.
“Having established your identity, it was not difficult to trace you back to England and find your worried fiancé,” Dolly Wells’ Sister Agatha tells Dracula’s victim Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan) shortly after reuniting him with his fiancé Mina.
“I have a detective acquaintance in London.”
And speaking after a screening of the first episode, the series co-creators confessed that they weren’t sure whether viewers would pick up on the reference.
“I thought no-one would get that!” laughed Moffat.
“Really it’s Sexton Blake,” joked Gatiss, referring to a different fictional 1890s detective who often appeared in periodicals like Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes.
“We’re just messing with you.”
Previously, the pair have admitted that taking on Dracula was inspired by their work on Sherlock, with a shot of a high-collared Cumberbatch one day making them wonder if the vampire story could work for another adaptation.
“The genesis is funny, isn’t it – it was doing Sherlock,” Gatiss said on the set of Dracula.
“We’d been shooting series two for two days, and we had to come back to go to the RTS awards. We’d just done the shot of Benedict coming back from the dead, and there was a silhouette of him in his coat outside Mrs Hudson’s door.
“And I had a picture on my phone and I showed it to Ben Stephenson the head of drama. I said it looks like Dracula. He said ‘do you wanna do it?’ And that’s how it began.”
Now, with two episodes left in Dracula, we’re sure there are plenty more opportunities for Sherlock references if Gatiss and Moffat have chosen to include them – if nothing else, Sherlock regular Jonathan Aris will pop up in episode two – and if not, well, we’re sure they still plan to raise the stakes anyway…
Dracula continues on BBC One on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd January at 9pm