Fans of the BBC’s runaway hit Sherlock (a modernization of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes franchise) have been eagerly anticipating a third season since the cliff-hanger ending to the season two finale, “The Reichenbach Fall”. Co-creator Steven Moffat dosed that fire with more fuel a few months ago, when he announced a three-word tease hinting at which stories from Doyle’s source material are going to serve as the basis for each of the season’s three 90-minute episodes.

Sherlock Season 3’s planned premiere date changed from ‘When We’re Ready’ to Fall 2013, after Moffat dropped that juicy tidbit. Unfortunately, the latest reports indicate that date has been moved back due to scheduling issues – namely, those resulting from the newfound popularity of the show’s stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Now, any Sherlock fan worth their salt knows that the show/mini-series’ principal players (Moffat, Cumberbatch, Freeman) are very busy men. Moffat is currently serving as the showrunner for Doctor Who, which Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss writes for (in addition to making occasional onscreen appearance). Not to mention, it wasn’t that long ago that Cumberbatch wrapped his still-mysterious villain role in Star Trek Into Darkness and shot a supporting role in Steven McQueen’s true-story slavery drama Twelve Years a Slave; similarly, Freeman finished the first chunk of principal photography on Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy this summer.

EW says the production start date for Sherlock season 3 has been postponed until March 2013, meaning the show won’t be hitting the BBC until late 2013 (with PBS airing the series in early 2014). No specific schedule conflict is cited in that report, but – in appropriate Sherlock-ian stye – it’s easy to deduce what other projects could be responsible for the delay.

For starters, Edgar Wright is currently shooting The World’s End (which Freeman appears in) and additional photography for the third Hobbit movie will be taking place in the near future; not only for scenes that feature Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, but possibly more studio recording work for Cumberbatch (who is playing Smaug the dragon via motion-capture and voicing The Necromancer). Speaking of the latter: he’s prepping to appear in Monty Python alum Terry Jones’ fantasy comedy Absolutely Anything and will be portraying Julian Assange in director Bill Condon’s Wikileaks not too long after Sherlock S3 begins shooting.

As far as fans should be concerned, though, it’s just business-as-usual behind the scenes on Sherlock. That is, production on the show will be fit around its leads’ jam-packed schedules, as BBC heads want the series to return to the air sooner, rather than later (in part, to take advantage of its increase in popularity over the past year). However, there’s no indication that anything from the writing to the filming process is being rushed, in order to reach a pre-established deadline; the show will be given its customary amount of development time – but the wait will be a little longer than many (okay, everyone) would like.

More on season three of Sherlock as the story develops.

Source: EW