New Netflix period drama The Irregulars is the latest Sherlock Holmes adaptation to hit our screens, sitting alongside a host of other movies, TV shows and general spin-offs starring Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective.
Still, when bringing another Holmes to screen today it’s hard to ignore the presence of one adaptation in particular – and according to one cast member, there’s a real pressure in following it.
“I loved the BBC One adaptation with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, I’ve watched that one to death already,” Darci Shaw, who plays lead character Jessie tells RadioTimes.com.
“I think that show in particular has a very strong kind of following, the fans are quite full on with that show. So I think, as with anything, it might be a bit weird in our show to see a different person playing Sherlock. I don’t know whether everyone will like it, but I really hope they’ll be able to give it a chance, and watch it.”
The new Holmes is played by The Inbetweeners star Henry Lloyd-Hughes, who is largely absent in The Irregulars’ earlier episodes. Sherlock has a rather different personality in this show, compared to the versions we’ve seen onscreen before.
“In this, Sherlock and Watson are both as different from previous versions as we’ve ever seen,” Lloyd-Hughes tells us.
“Luckily, I didn’t have to put too much effort into ignoring everything. Right from the get-go, I was inhabiting a totally different emotional landscape from the performances that we’ve seen these fantastic actors do before.
“I never had a moment where I was like, ‘Oh, wait a second. Will this be a bit like Robert Downey Jr or Benedict Cumberbatch if I say the line like this?’ I never felt like I was treading on anyone’s toes. And I’m sure if either watches the show, they won’t be like, ‘My God, he’s ripping me off.’”
“Yes, he’s John Watson and yes, it’s Sherlock Holmes,” adds Royce Pierreson, who plays Dr Watson. “But they’re still totally different characters. I’m not playing Martin Freeman’s John Watson. It’s just my version.”
And more generally, series creator Tom Bidwell says that fans of the BBC’s Sherlock will find little crossover in his series, which focuses more on a gang of street children (including Shaw’s Jessie) than the residents of 221b themselves, and includes supernatural threats instead of the usual criminals and murderers.
“The BBC’s Sherlock is a fantastic series,” Bidwell tells RadioTimes.com. “But I don’t want to copy Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss because they’re brilliant, and we wanted to do something completely different, really.
“I think there will be stuff that fans of that series will like for sure, but it’s not the same type of crime drama. It’s worth bearing that in mind. This is a mystery, it’s more serialised and it doesn’t rely on Sherlock’s powers of intuition, or it doesn’t play on them in the brilliant way that they’re doing in BBC Sherlock. It’s more of a gang show. And of course it’s supernatural and horror, so that immediately bumps it into a different territory.”
He added: “If you’re expecting Sherlock to appear and for crimes to be solved with immediate deduction, it’s just not… that’s not our show.”
Still, according to The Irregulars cast, these differences make the show all the more satisfying as a viewing experience.
“I hope people do come to see the brilliant things that Henry’s done with the character,” Shaw tells us.
“I do think that he’s done something very different to anyone else. He hasn’t tried to be the stereotypical Sherlock Holmes. He’s really gone off and done something completely different with it. And I think it’s really exciting, and he’s done such a brilliant job.
“So I really do hope people can be open-minded and give it a chance.”