Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Sherlock's case of Victorian identity

A first look at the BBC’s Christmas special reveals more of their period stylings - but how are the Baker Street duo going to travel back in time?

A fetching handlebar moustache, a heavy herringbone tweed suit, pinstripe trousers, a pocket-watch chain, a morning suit, a bright-blue tie pin and a red handkerchief. What are the clues hidden in this new picture showing the upcoming Victorian incarnations of the modern Dr Watson and Mr Holmes? Will they help us decipher what we might expect in their next adventure?

Released ahead of the Sherlock panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con – which includes executive producers Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue, as well as star Rupert Graves (or DI Lestrade) – the picture is taken from the upcoming BBC Christmas special, which is reported to involve “a trip back in time to Victorian London”, ahead of three more episodes of a new series.

But how will they get there? Actual time travel feels like it would be a leap too far for a series that has done its best to stay largely within the realms of possibility, and a trippy, 7%-solution-inspired dream sequence might be a bit much for a Christmas episode. How about a one-off re-imagining that steps outside the series’s timeline to show us how this version of the duo would have handled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original cases? (Which, come to think of it, would make it a re-re-imagining …)

Moffat seems to be leaning towards the latter (although he has been known to enjoy the odd bit of misdirection before each season of the programme). As he told Entertainment Weekly ahead of a SXSW panel:

The special is its own thing. We wouldn’t have done the story we’re doing, and the way we’re doing it, if we didn’t have this special. It’s not part of the run of three episodes … It’s Victorian. [Co-creator Mark Gatiss] and me, we wanted to do this, but it had to be a special, it had to be separate entity on its own. It’s kind of in its own little bubble.

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. Photograph: Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films//PA

How will the mystery of the Victorian identity be solved? Thinking caps at the ready …


Richard Vine

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Benedict Cumberbatch hopes Sherlock will break his Bafta duck
Star of BBC1 series gets fifth nomination at an awards ceremony dominated by crime dramas such as Happy Valley, The Missing and Line of Duty

John Plunkett

08, May, 2015 @12:35 PM

Article image
Sherlock's future in doubt as stars' Hollywood schedules fill
Benedict Cumberbatch says his character in BBC1 drama, back on Sunday for possibly its last series, is becoming ‘less of a dick’

Jasper Jackson

30, Dec, 2016 @12:01 AM

Article image
Steven Moffat says Sherlock special is set in Victorian era
At SXSW, the Sherlock writer confirms Christmas special will see Holmes and Watson depart their usual contemporary setting

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

17, Mar, 2015 @11:17 AM

Article image
Sherlock's Victorian-era Christmas special – watch the trailer
The trailer for Sherlock’s upcoming BBC special, set in Victorian London, was launched at Comic-Con in San Diego

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

10, Jul, 2015 @8:14 AM

Article image
Sherlock finale watched by smallest audience in show's history
Critics divided on last episode of series four, His Final Problem, a Russian version of which was leaked online

Jasper Jackson

16, Jan, 2017 @12:30 PM

Article image
Sherlock series four: which stories would you like to see adapted?
Which Conan Doyle books should Steven Moffat tap for inspiration next – and who could turn up as a guest star?

Guardian TV and Martha Salhotra

02, Jul, 2014 @3:52 PM

Article image
Sherlock finale trumped by Russian leak online
Final episode of fourth series of Sherlock, which may be the last ever, is close to original stories despite recent criticism

Mark Lawson

15, Jan, 2017 @10:30 PM

Article image
Sherlock's top secret mystery survival finally revealed

The eagerly anticipated secret of how BBC's Sherlock survived his rooftop plunge has been revealed at a preview screening

John Plunkett

15, Dec, 2013 @7:02 PM

Article image
Sherlock enters new year as global TV phenomenon
New Year’s Day episode The Abominable Bride is expected to draw 13 million viewers and airs in US and UK on same day

David Batty

30, Dec, 2015 @6:28 PM

Article image
Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch: TV awards shows are just pants | Media Monkey
Media Monkey: Star accepts prize via satellite link wearing a dinner jacket – but camera reveals he is sporting only shorts on his bottom half


23, Jan, 2014 @10:27 AM