Is Sherlock over or will there be a fifth season?

Writer Mark Gattis says he's struggling to pin down Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman


Sherlock series four: Have we missed 'obvious' clues'?

14 September

With a fourth season of Sherlock on the way in the new year, and anticipation building, series co-creator and star Mark Gatiss has teased fans by telling them that there are some "blindingly obvious" clues about what to expect.

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Gatiss made the statement during a members' talk at the Victoria & Albert Museum, reports the Radio Times. The actor-writer (who plays Mycroft Holmes in the series) said that there are some clear clues indicating exactly what Benedict Cumberbatch's sleuth will be up against in the new series, if only audiences didn't get distracted by irrelevant details and wild theories.

"There are things that come to fruition in this series which we've been planning for years," said Gatiss. "But people also find things that aren't there. And then miss the blindingly obvious things that are there. People read an awful lot into it."

Gatiss went on to describe some of the more bizarre theories he'd encountered since working on the series, saying they typified the wild speculation about the show.

"I did read someone's theory about Moriarty's suicide, which was all based on Grimm's fairy tales," Gatiss recalled. "And it would have required a dossier – like a really annotated episode guide. That's obviously not going to happen, because this has to be something for the casual viewer, who's not going to say 'Oh I see…'"

Gatiss did praise the level of invention in some fan theories as "amazing", but said it was also amazing that these fans really thought some of their more outlandish theories might be correct.

So what will happen in series four and what clues are out there?

A moody trailer released at Comic Con in July hints at the possible return of Moriarty, or someone pretending to be Moriarty, and warns that "the roads we walk have demons beneath".

It shows Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman reprising their roles as supersleuths Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, and Gatiss returning as Sherlock's brother Mycroft, but could there be a new brother making an appearance?

In July the internet went wild when Gatiss and Amanda Abbington, who plays Watson's wife Mary, posed with Tom Hiddleston at Comic-Con, along with Gatiss's Twitter caption, "Blud". There was intense speculation that Hiddleston could be making an appearance as Sherlock and Mycroft's onscreen brother, though Gatiss later tried to dispel the idea.

And could another popular cast member be departing?

There has been ongoing speculation that Mary might be killed off in the upcoming series after Abbington posted a picture of her engagement ring laid on top of a call sheet for the show, along with the message: "And that's a Golden Wrap on Mary."

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Paul Jones at the Radio Times noted that the term "golden wrap" often means a special farewell from cast and crew when an actor bows out of a show for the final time. So is it curtains for Mary?

In an in-depth interview in Collider, Gatiss tried to head off the idea, saying: "Just because [Mary's death is] in the stories doesn't mean it'll happen in the series because there's an awful lot of changes and an awful lot of places to go and things to do... there are lots of surprises to come."

In the same interview, Cumberbatch said Moriarty would lurk in the upcoming season, but we shouldn't expect to see the real Moriarty. "Nemeses play large in your psychology," he said.

Cumberbatch added: "They're not just physical entities who are actually present. It's about the fear of them. And I think that's why Moriarty really succeeds. He's terrorised Sherlock's mind. It's fear that lives on."

Meanwhile, series co-creator Stephen Moffat warns that Toby Jones (recently seen in Secret Agent) is the show's "darkest villain" yet. "This guy is the purest evil. Sherlock is actually appalled by him. He's the most evil villain we've had. I don't think that when you see it, you will disagree. He's horrific," said Moffat.

For the full story, fans will have to wait until 1 January 2017, when Sherlock returns to BBC One.

Will Tom Hiddleston appear in Sherlock series four?

8 September

A picture of Tom Hiddleston smiling beside Sherlock stars Mark Gatiss and Amanda Abbington at the San Diego Comic-Con International has sparked a frenzy of speculation about whether he will be playing a key character in series four of the show.

Gatiss, who co-creator the hit BBC show who also plays Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, tweeted the image with the caption: "blud" - street slang for "blood brother".

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The picture followed a Sherlock panel at Comic-Con during which three names were mentioned as clues to the events of series four: Thatcher, Smith and Sherrinford.

Sherrinford Holmes is the name of Sherlock and Mycroft's older brother in a fictional biography of the detective.

Amateur sleuths quickly started hypothesising about whether there was a connection between the clues and the photo.

Some asked Gatiss for confirmation of their theories on Twitter:

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Others could barely contain their excitement:

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But not everyone was convinced, with some observers calling it a hoax:

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However, the excited fans may be onto something. Viewers have previously been teased with the possibility of another Holmes sibling – in series three, Mycroft hinted at the introduction of a new member of the family when he said: "I'm not given to outbursts of brotherly compassion. You know what happened to the other one."

According to the Radio Times, Conan Doyle originally considered Sherrinford for his hero before settling on Sherlock. Holmes scholar William Stuart Baring-Gould later took up the name in a fictional biography of the 221B Baker Street detective.

In the book, Sherrinford ran the family estate while the other Holmes men went into crime-solving and government work.

It seems unlikely that series creators and Doyle fans Steven Moffat and Gatiss would have dangled the name without reason. But fans will have to wait until January 2017 to find out if it is Hiddleston who will take up that role.

Sherlock series four trailer: Everyone is under threat

25 July

An intense new trailer has been released for the fourth series of the BBC's Sherlock and it seems Holmes and Watson will be in for a difficult time.

The teaser, unveiled at Comic-Con International: San Diego, starts off with fuzzy footage of criminal mastermind Moriarty (Andrew Scott) asking: "Did you miss me?"

Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) concludes: "Something is coming. Maybe it's Moriarty. Maybe it's not." [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"97830","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

The trailer also includes lots of spooky shots of rain, trees silhouetted in the darkness, men running and mysterious shadows moving in the dim light. "Everything they know will be tested," it warns, adding: "Everyone they know is under threat."

To complicate matters, Holmes and Watson (Martin Freeman) seem to have more than one baddie to deal with. Toby Jones, fresh from his performance in The Secret Agent, will star as Culverton Smith, who appears in Arthur Conan Doyle's short story, The Adventure of the Dying Detective, about a villain who uses tropical diseases for evil ends.

Smith also appears in the trailer, promising Sherlock "endless fun", but the detective replies dryly that it won't be "endless".

In addition, the clip shows us landlady Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs) calling Sherlock's brother, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), a "reptile" and ordering him out of her house, leaving us to wonder what he has done to deserve such a telling off.

Meanwhile, morgue worker Molly (Louise Brealey) cries: "This isn't a game," twisting Holmes's classic catchphrase and raising the chilling possibility that not all our favourite characters are going to make it out of this series alive.

In an interview in Entertainment Weekly, writer Steven Moffat warned fans: "We're certainly going to put them through the mill. It's going to be more of an emotional upheaval." It will be tough at times, he added, but said he also hoped it would be "enjoyable and fun, all the things Sherlock must always be".

Moffat was among the Sherlock panel at Comic-Con, sitting alongside co-creator Gatiss, producer Sue Vertue and stars Cumberbatch and Amanda Abbington, who plays Watson's wife, Mary.

They also presented fans with a comic skit video about how they decided who would go to the event by playing a whodunit board game while dressed in costume. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"97831","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

Sherlock series four is expected to premiere on New Year's Day next year, with episodes two and three following on 8 and 15 January.

Sherlock series four: Everything we know so far

10 June

The fourth series of Sherlock is now in production with the cast and crew currently filming in Morocco.

The new three-part series will have a female director on the team for the first time – Doctor Who's Rachel Talalay is in charge of the series' premiere.

The first episode will pick up where the New Year's Day special – The Abominable Bride – left off, with Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock investigating the apparent reappearance of the long-dead Moriarty.

Also on the horizon for the new series will be the possible addition of a baby to Baker Street as Doctor Watson and his wife Mary, played by real-life couple Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington, will prepare for "their biggest ever challenge" – becoming parents for the first time, says the BBC.

But co-creators Sean Moffatt and Mark Gatiss have hinted that this series could be the last, saying: "This is the story we’ve been telling from the beginning. A story about to reach its climax..."

So what do we know so far about series four?

Cast addition

While the Sherlock production team have stayed characteristically tight-lipped about many of the details, news has leaked that British character actor Toby Jones is in line to play classic Holmes villain Culverton Smith, according to Cultbox.

For those less in the know, Smith appears in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Dying Detective, originally published in 1913. The villain murdered his nephew and tries to murder Sherlock via a spring-loaded box set to release an infectious disease, but Sherlock is, of course, one step ahead of him.

Moffat said he was "delighted" to have Jones on board, "bringing to life one of Doyle's finest villains", while Gatiss added: "We're thrilled to welcome one of our finest actors to the Sherlock family. I know Toby will embrace the part with true relish!"

Curtain call

"They're teasing us," says Morgan Jeffrey on Digital Spy, commenting on Moffat and Gatiss's implication that this series might be the last.

A story "reaching its climax" seems to suggest the show is coming to an end, but back in 2014, Moffat hinted that he and Gatiss had plotted out a potential fifth series.

It could be the former Doctor Who showrunner being "typically cryptic and Moffaty", says James White at Empire. "But it does sound like we could be in for a farewell to the Baker Street irregulars."

Especially, he adds, since the leading duo's increasingly busy film schedules are making it harder to find open slots in their diaries.

A darker turn

Following the denouement of series three, Gatiss spoke about the relative light-heartedness of the episodes, saying: "We did make [episodes] one and two [of series three] actually more light-hearted and we deliberately set out to make it like the best times for the three of them as a new team, that they would really have a great time.

"Even though Mary is very proactive and a huge part, it's a sort of breathing space between 'Vow' and the next one."

Declaring themselves "really worried about Mary", Den of Geek said this was a clear indication that the first episode of series four might be much less lighthearted for the trio.

Release date

No dates have been announced for the new series yet, but Radio Times has heard it is a "near certainty" that series four will air on New Year's Day 2017.

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