While Robert Downey, Jr. put on a British accent to play the world’s most legendary detective, BBC’s Sherlock did things differently. Pairing Brits Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson, respectively, the minds behind Doctor Who crafted two seasons of arguably the best incarnation of the characters we’ve seen.

Since then, fate has smiled on both: with Cumberbatch turning in a performance as the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness (already winning the highest praise from his cast members) and Freeman starring in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy as the titular halfling (alongside Cumberbatch’s Smaug, no less). So what does that success mean for the fate of Sherlock?

Concerns are easy to understand, since Cumberbatch is already gaining more attention stateside as mysterious villain ‘John Harrison,’ and Freeman seems bound to enjoy as much success as any of the cast of Jackson’s LotR trilogy. It’s perhaps a bittersweet turn of events, since the early success of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ contemporary re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories was due largely to the sterling performances of (now Golden Globe-nominated) Cumberbatch and Freeman – performances now possibly throwing future seasons into question.

In a twist that is sure to make fans of BBC and detective stories relieved, Cumberbatch was asked in an interview with Yahoo UK if the pair’s big screen success meant that the need for Sherlock was suddenly an afterthought.

His response? “Absolutely not”:

“I don’t think that’s a possibility because I love it too much. Making [Sherlock] is all about availability. Martin Freeman has the same kind of pressures on him now. It’s a thing of quality not quantity that show – thank God. We started young with it. We started when they meet and we still are young for those roles. There’s no reason why it can’t continue until we get too old.”

As the world breathes a sigh of relief, we’re suddenly a little bit less frustrated that Sherlock is limited to only three episodes a year – the quality over quantity Cumberbatch alludes to. Nevertheless, Cumberbatch’s comments seem somewhat at odds with the expectations for Sherlock’s season three stories – now pushed back as far as 2014.

The three episode titles released for the upcoming season point quite clearly to existing Sherlock Holmes’ stories, including “His Last Bow”: chronologically the last Holmes mystery Conan Doyle wrote. Moffat had previously claimed he was at least flirting with the idea of crafting new mysteries for a somewhat older Holmes and Watson to tackle, but wasn’t setting anything in stone. The implied ending to season three of Sherlock coincided well with the rising stars of both Cumberbatch and Freeman, but the latest word from the leading man throws all of that into question.

At this point it’s impossible to know how the success of both franchises will impact the job offerings each actor will or will not accept. As far as we know a Doctor Who crossover is still a possibility, so who knows what the future might hold for both series.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that Sherlock has a long life ahead of it; if not in consecutive seasons, then perhaps Moffat will get his wish of revisiting the characters later in life once all the fervor has died down. Needless to say, we’ll keep you updated.

Sherlock is expected to return in late 2013 or early 2014.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Yahoo UK