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Sherlock is a British television crime drama that presents a contemporary adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. Nine episodes have been produced, the first three of which aired in 2010. Series two aired in 2012, and a third series aired in the first quarter of 2014. The third series has become the UK's most watched drama series since 2001. Sherlock has been sold to over 200 territories.
Sherlock depicts "consulting detective" Holmes, assisting the Metropolitan Police Service, primarily Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves), in solving various crimes. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate, Dr John Watson, who has returned from military service in Afghanistan. Although the series depicts a variety of crimes and perpetrators, Holmes' conflict with his archenemy Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) is a recurring feature. Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey), a pathologist at Bart's Hospital occasionally assists Holmes in his cases. Other recurring roles include Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson, Holmes and Watson's landlady; and co-creator Mark Gatiss as Sherlock's brother, Mycroft Holmes.
Critical reception was extremely positive, with many reviews commending the quality of the writing, performances and direction. Sherlock has been nominated for numerous awards, including Baftas, Emmys and Golden Globe, winning several across a variety of categories. All of the series have been released on DVD and Blu-ray, alongside tie-in editions of selected original Conan Doyle stories and original soundtrack composed by David Arnold and Michael Price. In January 2014, the show launched its official mobile app called Sherlock: The Network which was created by The Project Factory in association with Hartswood Films.
|Series||Episodes||Originally aired||Average UK viewership|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||3||25 July 2010||8 August 2010||8.83|
|2||3||1 January 2012||15 January 2012||10.24|
|3||3||1 January 2014||12 January 2014||11.83|
|No. overall||No. in series||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers (million)||Share (%)|
|1||1||"A Study in Pink"||Paul McGuigan||Steven Moffat||25 July 2010||9.23||28.5|
The police investigate the deaths of a series of people who all appear to have committed suicide by taking a poisonous pill. They turn to their unofficial consultant, Sherlock Holmes, who deduces various elements pointing to a serial killer. Meanwhile, Holmes is introduced to John Watson, a former soldier who served in Afghanistan, and the pair immediately move into a flat in Baker Street. John Watson slowly gets to know and trust Sherlock despite police officer Sally Donovan (Vinette Robinson) warning him that Holmes is a psychopath and will one day be responsible for murder. Sherlock's brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), at first not revealing his identity, kidnaps Watson and asks whether he'll spy on Sherlock for money, but John refuses. After a series of incidents, the person responsible for the deaths, a taxicab driver (Phil Davis), reveals that his victims took their own lives by playing a game of Russian roulette with two pills: one fatally poisonous, the other safe. Watson shoots the cabbie and runs away. As he dies, the taxicab driver reveals that Moriarty was his sponsor.Loosely based on the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet.
|2||2||"The Blind Banker"||Euros Lyn||Stephen Thompson||1 August 2010||8.07||25.5|
Sherlock is hired by an old friend to investigate a mysterious break-in at a bank in the City. He discovers that symbols spray-painted onto an office wall are a coded message intended for an employee of the bank, who is later discovered dead in his flat. The next day, a journalist is killed and the same symbols are found nearby. Sherlock and John follow a trail of clues that link the two dead men to a Chinese smuggling ring, who are trying to retrieve a valuable item that one of them stole. Sherlock eventually cracks the coded message based on Suzhou numerals and a book cipher, but not before John and Sarah (John's girlfriend) are kidnapped by the criminals. Sherlock rescues John and Sarah, but the leader of the gang escapes. After escaping, the leader of the gang is in communication with her superior, who is identified by the initial "M". She is then shot by a sniper.Loosely based on the short story "The Adventure of the Dancing Men", the storyline also incorporates elements from other Sherlock Holmes stories; the concept of coded messages, the markings on the feet of the Black Lotus members and the plot of escaping a secret society, then being tracked to and killed in England all feature in The Valley of Fear. A murder victim being found inside a locked room, accessible only by climbing, alludes to The Sign of the Four.
|3||3||"The Great Game"||Paul McGuigan||Mark Gatiss||8 August 2010||9.18||31.3|
Sherlock is commissioned by Mycroft to investigate the suspicious death of a government employee, who was working on a top-secret defence project: the Bruce-Partington Project. After rejecting the case and handing it over to John, Sherlock begins to be taunted by a criminal who puts his victims into explosive vests and sets Sherlock deadlines to solve the apparently unrelated cases, which include a twenty-year-old cold case involving the shoes of a drowned boy, the disappearance of a businessman, the death of a TV personality, and the assassination of a guard of an art gallery by the "Golem". As Sherlock solves the cases, he finds links between them. After clearing up the original case of the civil servant, Sherlock tries to force his unseen adversary to reveal himself. Near the end of the episode, Sherlock and "Jim Moriarty" reach a standoff, where Jim reveals that he is responsible for the crimes. In the final seconds, Sherlock Holmes points his gun at a bomb on the floor that had been strapped to John.The episode's storyline is essentially original, but elements of the plot are drawn widely from the works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The second series of three 90-minute episodes was initially planned to air in late 2011. However, a lengthy filming schedule forced the broadcast date to 1 January 2012, with a PBS broadcast confirmed for May. At the Kapow! 11 convention, Gatiss confirmed that the three episodes would be based on the stories "A Scandal in Bohemia", The Hound of the Baskervilles and "The Final Problem", and that the writers would be Moffat, Gatiss and Thompson, respectively. Gatiss explained, "We knew after having a successful first run that the natural order would be to do three of the most famous [stories]". "There's the question of how to go out on a cliffhanger and then the thematic things of the three stories, where we were trying to get to and what Sherlock and John's relationship is a little further on. You can't just go back to: 'You have no emotions.' 'I don't care.' You've got to move on somewhere and make sure the other characters have something of a journey too." Paul McGuigan directed two episodes, and Doctor Who director Toby Haynes handled "The Reichenbach Fall". Filming ran from 16 May 2011 to 24 August. Sue Vertue produced the first two episodes and Elaine Cameron produced the third, with Vertue credited as executive producer for this episode. Russell Tovey appeared in "The Hounds of Baskerville" and Lara Pulver portrayed Irene Adler.
Series 2 was promoted as a trilogy with the teaser words: Adler, Hound, and Reichenbach.
|No. overall||No. in series||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers (million)|
|4||1||"A Scandal in Belgravia"||Paul McGuigan||Steven Moffat||1 January 2012||10.66|
Mycroft hires Sherlock and John to retrieve compromising photos of a minor royal, which are held on the camera phone of Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a ruthless and brilliant dominatrix who also trades in classified information extracted from her rich and powerful clients. Sherlock obtains Adler's phone, but discovers it is booby-trapped and requires a code to disarm it. When Adler discovers that the CIA are on her trail, she disappears and is then apparently killed, only to reappear to ask John to get her camera phone back from Sherlock. Weeks later when the coast is clear, Adler tricks Sherlock into deciphering a coded message on her phone which she obtained from another well-connected client. She sends the message to Moriarty, who in turn uses it to foil a British counter-terror operation. She almost succeeds in blackmailing Mycroft, but Sherlock finally cracks the password for the phone, leaving Adler without the protection she needs to survive. The episode concludes as Mycroft tells John that she has been killed by a terrorist group in Pakistan. This is also untrue: Sherlock helped her escape when she was on the brink of death.Based on the short story "A Scandal in Bohemia".
|5||2||"The Hounds of Baskerville"||Paul McGuigan||Mark Gatiss||8 January 2012||10.27|
Sherlock and John are contacted by Henry Knight (Russell Tovey), a man traumatised by the death of his father by a monstrous hound on Dartmoor years before. Investigating Dewer's Hollow, a local spot where the beast was allegedly seen, as well as the nearby Ministry of Defence testing site Baskerville, Sherlock and John uncover a conspiracy wherein one of the Baskerville scientists, Dr. Frankland (Clive Mantle), is continuing the work of H.O.U.N.D., an aborted project to create a hallucinogenic gas for military use. Sherlock and John discover that the legendary hound is an ordinary dog used for publicity that the hallucinogenic gas makes appear as a demonic monster. The "hound" that killed Henry's father was actually Frankland wearing a red-lensed gas mask and a T-shirt bearing the logo of the H.O.U.N.D. group. Confronting both the dog and Frankland at Dewer's Hollow, John and Lestrade shoot the dog. Frankland attempts to flee, but dies when he runs into a minefield. In the final scene, Mycroft releases a confined Jim Moriarty.Based on the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.
|6||3||"The Reichenbach Fall"||Toby Haynes||Stephen Thompson||15 January 2012||9.78|
After a series of high-profile cases lead Sherlock to fame, Moriarty launches a simultaneous heist on the Tower of London, Bank of England and Pentonville Prison using just a few lines of code that can break any security; crimes for which he allows himself to be captured and put on trial. He secures a not-guilty verdict through intimidating the jury and visits Sherlock, explaining he still intends to "burn" him, taunting him with a "final problem" for him to solve. Soon afterwards, Moriarty arranges for the kidnapping of the children of an American ambassador, who are terrified of Sherlock once he has them rescued. This, in conjunction with the ease with which Sherlock solves the case, leads to Sherlock becoming a suspect. Sherlock escapes arrest, and soon learns Moriarty is using the alias of an actor who claims to have been hired by Sherlock, and has seeded the press with a story of Sherlock being a fraud. The two meet on the roof of a hospital, where Moriarty explains that assassins will kill John, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade if Sherlock does not commit suicide; he wants Sherlock to do this to cement his story after explaining that his "god code" was a myth. After a tense conversation, in which Moriarty realises the two are enough alike that Sherlock would be willing to do anything to Moriarty to get him to call off the assassins, Moriarty kills himself to force Sherlock to do the same. Sherlock calls John and "confesses" to being a fraud (which John refuses to believe). John pleads for him to come down. Sherlock states his final "Goodbye" and then steps off the roof, leading to his vilification by the press. John and Mrs. Hudson meet alone at Sherlock's grave to say their goodbyes; the final seconds show Sherlock watching from afar, having faked his death.Inspired by the short story "The Final Problem". The title alludes to the Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock and Moriarty supposedly fall to their deaths in the original story.
BBC One premiered a seven-minute mini-episode over the 2013 Christmas period entitled "Many Happy Returns". The episode is available via BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button service, and BBCs YouTube channel, and acts as a prequel to the third series.
|Title||Written by||Original air date|
|"Many Happy Returns"||Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat||24 December 2013|
|Anderson believes that Sherlock is still alive after the Reichenbach fall. He confides in Lestrade and tells him his theory for his existence. Anderson believes a string of events ranging from Tibet to India to Germany involve Sherlock's assistance, and this is due to Sherlock not being able to stop investigating. Lestrade tells him Sherlock is definitely dead and goes to visit John, who has moved out of Baker Street following his death. He gives him some of Sherlock's old items, including a video message from John's birthday. In the message Sherlock states that he will see John very soon and tells him to have a good birthday without him as he is 'busy'.|
As they had done in order to promote series two, Moffat and Gatiss announced three words to tease the content of the third series. These words were, "rat, wedding, bow". Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August 2012, Moffat said that these words "may be misleading, are not titles, are only teases or possibly clues, but might be deliberately designed to get you into a lather." The third series, again written by Moffat, Gatiss and Thompson, started filming on 18 March 2013. The first episode is based on "The Adventure of the Empty House" and is written by Gatiss. Jeremy Lovering directed the first episode, with Colm McCarthy directed the second. Nick Hurran directed the final episode.
On 26 November 2013, BBC announced that the series would air as part of their festive schedule, and that the first episode would be screened at London's BFI on 15 December prior to its television debut. On 29 November, the BBC confirmed that the series would premiere on U.K. television on 1 January 2014.
|No. overall||No. in series||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers (million)|
|7||1||"The Empty Hearse"||Jeremy Lovering||Mark Gatiss||1 January 2014||12.72|
Two years after his reported Reichenbach Fall demise, Sherlock, who has been cleared of all fraud charges against him, returns with Mycroft's help to a London under threat of terrorist attack. John has moved on and has a girlfriend, Mary Morstan. Sherlock enlists Molly to assist him, but when John is kidnapped by unknown assailants and is rescued by Sherlock and Mary, John returns to help find the terrorists and an underground plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament during an all night sitting on Guy Fawkes Night.Based on the short story "The Adventure of the Empty House", with numerous references to other works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other adaptations of the original stories.
|8||2||"The Sign of Three"||Colm McCarthy||Stephen Thompson, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss||5 January 2014||11.38|
It is John and Mary's wedding day and Sherlock is daunted by the task of delivering a Best Man's speech. As part of the speech, he recounts cases they have worked on including a soldier being stalked and somehow stabbed in a locked shower, a ghost dating women he dubs "The Mayfly Man", the last being part of John's disastrous stag night, among others. Before his speech ends, he realises that a murderer is present among the guests intent on killing a fellow guest. Sherlock saves the targeted guest, and then informs John and Mary of the meaning of the sign of three; namely that Mary is pregnant.The title is based on the Holmes novel The Sign of the Four.
|9||3||"His Last Vow"||Nick Hurran||Steven Moffat||12 January 2014||11.38|
Stolen letters lead Sherlock into conflict with Charles Augustus Magnussen, "the Napoleon of blackmail" who knows the personal weakness of every person of importance in the Western world. During the investigation Sherlock is shot and nearly killed by Mary, who is being blackmailed by Magnussen. After waking up from near-death, Sherlock escapes the hospital and lures Mary to an abandoned building, where he tricks her into revealing her false identity and attempted murder while John is listening nearby. Months later, Sherlock drugs everyone at the Holmes family Christmas party, steals Mycroft's laptop full of state secrets, and he and John take the laptop to Magnussen to trade for all of the files on 'Mary Morstan'. It's revealed that Magnussen keeps no files; it's all in his near-perfect photographic memory. To protect John, Mary, and their forthcoming child, Holmes kills Magnussen in front of Mycroft and several other witnesses, and as a result is sent off on a suicidal assignment overseas. However, he is brought back almost immediately because of a video being broadcast all over London with Jim Moriarty's face asking "Did you miss me?"The title is based on Doyle's short story His Last Bow, whereas the plot contains elements of two other short stories, The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton and The Man with the Twisted Lip.
On 2 July 2014, it was revealed there would be a special episode broadcast between the third and fourth series. Filming will begin in January 2015. On 1 August 2014, it was confirmed that the special would air on Christmas 2015.
Moffat confirmed in January 2014 that Sherlock would return for a fourth and fifth series. Benedict Cumberbatch confirmed that he signed up for two additional series. On 5 November 2014, Douglas Mackinnon confirmed he would be directing an episode.