Benedict Cumberbatch is currently receiving a lot of praise and attention for his role as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange. However, the Oscar-nominated actor is perhaps best known for portraying another iconic character. Since 2010, Cumberbatch has portrayed Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest literary creation, Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock, which airs on BBC and PBS, is a modern day retelling of the illustrious detective’s exploits, and also features Martin Freeman as Sherlock’s partner, Dr. John Watson.

Sherlock has thus far aired three highly-acclaimed seasons and one Christmas special. Season 3 ended with Holmes being exiled from England after murdering Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen). Sherlock’s exile did not last long, as the presumed dead Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) appeared via broadcast to deliver an ominous question: “Did you miss me?” Anticipation has thus been high for Sherlock‘s fourth season, especially since this year’s one-off special (which predominantly took place in the Victorian Era) did not answer many of the series’ lingering questions.

While we have long known that season 4 of Sherlock would air in 2017, the official premiere date has finally been revealed. Sherlock is now set to return with ‘The Six Thatchers’ on January 1, 2017.

Not only will Cumberbatch and Freeman return as Sherlock and Watson, respectively; they will be joined by a new antagonist, played by Captain America: The First Avenger‘s Toby Jones. While plot developments for season 4 have been kept under lock and key, series showrunner, Steven Moffat did reveal that Jones’ villain is the series’ darkest one yet. This is a tantalizing tease for a show that has had some great antagonists, including an adaptation of perhaps the first ever supervillain, James Moriarty. It’s Moriarty’s current status that has many fans impatiently waiting for the season 4 premiere.

At the end of Sherlock season 2, Moriarty appeared to kill himself as part of a plot to get Holmes to end his own life. Of course, we learn in the third season that Sherlock was able to fake his own death through an elaborate scheme that is still not entirely clear. Moriarty’s “Did you miss me?” message would seem to indicate that he cheated death himself, but a bullet through the skull is far more difficult to fake than Sherlock’s rooftop jump. It seems likely that Moriarty is in fact dead, but will still be tormenting Sherlock via some nefarious plot he put in motion prior to his demise. Fortunately, we only have a few more months before we find out (hopefully).

Sherlock season 4 will premier on BBC and PBS with ‘The Six Thatchers’ on January 1, 2017.

Source: BBC

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