Despite a plethora of iconic original programming on BBC, many British TV enthusiasts still clamor for one crossover more than any other – Doctor Who and Sherlock. Unlike most fan-pairings, the possibility of a Doctor Who/Sherlock crossover remains a continuing source for speculation – since the series are both owned by BBC and written/produced by Steven Moffat. Until recently, the showrunner had very little interest in blending the two franchises for a special crossover but, in recent months, Moffat has begun to soften on the idea.
While the writer/producer openly admits BBC has considered the idea, Moffat’s vote alone isn’t enough to give the crossover a green light. Now, while discussing the future of Sherlock, the showrunner provided a new update on whether Holmes and Watson will meet the Doctor – and explains the primary hurdle a Doctor Who/Sherlock crossover would face.
My instinct—and this is probably from years of doing Doctor Who—is I’m just such a tart. If people want to, we should give it to them. But I got persuaded by Mark, Benedict, [executive producer Sue Vertue] and Martin saying, “Look, it will never be as good as they think it’s going to be,” and then I say, “Yes, but we’ll just bang it out and make it as good.” “Yeah, but you can’t give everybody everything they want all the time.” I’m in the camp of giving them everything they want. But I think they’re sane and right and I’m just a tart.
Fans of Doctor Who will likely be split on whether or not they agree that Moffat is a “tart” who just wants to give viewers everything they want – especially after hopes for a female and/or non-white actor in the lead role have (so far) gone unanswered. Still, above all else, Moffat is a Doctor Who fan – and since many fans disagree about what Doctor Who is and should be, the showrunner can’t please everyone (or give everyone everything they want) – even if he tries.
To that end, the writer/producer’s priority has always been to the show at hand – to tell the best Doctor Who or Sherlock story that he (and his team) can. For that reason, it isn’t a huge surprise to hear that the showrunner remains reluctant to actually move forward with a crossover, even if he thinks it would be fun, since tethering Sherlock to Doctor Who could ultimately be underwhelming (not to mention create a major ripple in the series’ respective canons).
After all, in an industry where shared universes are becoming commonplace, if Sherlock were somehow connected to Doctor Who, fans would have to accept that the grounded modern world of Sherlock is the same world that has, on multiple occasions, been publicly invaded by extra terrestrials. The showrunner could use a dream sequence, parallel universe, or wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff to explain away the meet-up without longterm consequences; though, many fans would consider such a gimmick (that wipes the slate entirely clean) a cop-out – legitimizing the concerns expressed by Mark Gatiss, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sue Vertue, and Martin Freeman.
That said, there is precedent within Doctor Who canon for Sherlock Holmes to exist (though not the other way around), as the Doctor has made passing reference to a friendship with the detective in several tie-in novels. Yet, since the characters were never seen onscreen together, it remains unclear whether Holmes actually exists within Doctor Who lore.
Either way, it sounds as though Moffat (tart or not) has warmed to the idea and would move forward (read: “bang it out and make it as good“) – if he came up with a solid story idea. Anyone familiar with the entertainment industry has likely heard similar comments before – when creators discuss the prospect of a sequel or spinoff, something like: “Of course, we’d love to do another one – if it’s the right story.” So, while there are no current plans for a Doctor Who/Sherlock crossover, the possibility remains – should Moffat come up with a satisfying tie-in tale and BBC wanted to build hype for either program.
Who knows? Maybe they already have – and the Doctor is responsible for the sudden shift in Sherlock‘s setting (from modern day to Victorian London) in the upcoming 2015 Sherlock Christmas special? Probably not but that would certainly be a fun holiday season surprise!
Even if we never get the crossover, at least we’ll always have the surprisingly realistic Wholock fan mashup video from “John Smith”:
Doctor Who season 9 will air in fall of 2015.
Sherlock will return December 25, 2015 for a standalone Christmas Special – with Season 4 set to air in 2016.