Steven Moffat talks about the SHERLOCK Christmas special, reveals it's a "ghost story"

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Look, I know that Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are massive movie stars now, too busy inventing the modern computer and fighting dragons – not to mention Cumberbatch winning big acting awards – to make time in their schedule for some TV work, but damn it, I really miss Sherlock! Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ brilliant modern revisionist take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous literary detective has been off the air since the third season wrapped in February 2014, and production for the fourth season is only expected to only start next year.

Luckily though, a one-off special is slated to air later in the year, which should hopefully give us our long overdue Sherlock fix. All we’ve really known about this special up until this point though, is that it will somehow be set in Victorian times – and Freeman’s Watson will be sporting a simply magnificent mustache – but now Moffat spoke at the Television Critics Association summer press tour (via /Film), revealing just why they’ve decided to take the story back in time: They wanted to do a ghost story.

“The main difference I would say, the only temperature change moving it from Victorian and Modern is ghost stories work better in the Victorian setting. Doyle stories that are scary chillers we haven’t done much. Victorian era gives us a chance to do a creepy one, a scary one.”

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But exactly how is that the story is now set in Victorian times? Sorry, crossover fanboys, but there were no Doctors with flying blue police boxes to help them out. Rather, for Moffat and Gatiss, it was simply a matter of “Because we can!”.

“We checked the books and discovered we got it wrong [jokingly] I said to Mark we should’ve read them first. We did this just because we can, really. We said, ‘Could we maybe do one scene or a dream sequence?’ Then we said why don’t we just do it? We never bothered explaining why he’s in modern day London. Why explain why we’re in Victorian London?”

But despite that cavalier attitude, don’t expect this to become a regular thing now.

“Really this is a one-off unless we go mad and set it in the 1940s and have him fight Hitler. Nothing’s inconceivable if you have bad taste. No, we go back to doing Sherlock next year unless I’m lying or we change our minds.”

One of the advantages of this jump back in time, is that Cumberbath’s Sherlock Holmes, usually known for his abrasive, often anti-social behaviour, now has some better manners.

“Sherlock Holmes has the manners of a Victorian gentleman which he doesn’t have in modern day, so he’s less brattish. I’d say this Sherlock is a little more polished. He operates like a Victorian gentleman.”

Along with Moffat’s talk, a new clip from the special was also released showing Cumberbatch’s Holmes and Freeman’s Watson having a borderline Fourth Wall breaking conversation about how their housekeeper Mrs Hudson (played by Una Stubbs) is a plot device. Moffat explained the context of the clip saying that “Doyle started that…”

“He’s criticizing the story. ‘You’re making that up.’ I thought that was the coolest thing, the hero criticizing his own story. Transferring it back to its original era we realized the women don’t speak. Mrs. Hudson has one line. We brought the Una Stubbs version and Mary, after her first story, doesn’t really say anything. In one story she gets her husband’s name wrong in one of the great continuity errors in history. [We had to address] characters who don’t really have a place in the original.”

The still untitled Sherlock special will air on BBC on Christmas day.

Last Updated: August 4, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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