Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are all very busy people. Freeman is currently the face of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy as well as FX's Fargo TV series; Cumberbatch is involved with multiple movie projects and also has a full-time job fighting rumors that he's going to be in the new Star Wars trilogy; Gatiss is currently running the Iron Bank of Braavos and recently wrapped filming on a new Frankenstein movie; and Moffat has not quite yet retired from his long tenure as Doctor Who showrunner.
Due to their hectic schedules, getting these people together for long enough to make another season of the BBC's beloved detective drama Sherlock is a bit of a tricky affair. Two full years passed between the first season and the third, and as yet there's been no concrete information regarding when season 4 is likely to begin production.
A few weeks ago, Freeman sparked hope among fans by saying that there had been talk of a one-off special along the lines of a standalone movie, though also admitted that plans to begin filming season 4 in fall 2014 had "fallen away" due to scheduling issues. Moffat and Gatiss stepped onto the red carpet for the BAFTA Television Awards this week, and were asked by the Radio Times if they were any closer to fixing a date for the start of season 4's production. The answer, according to Gatiss, is yes.
"I can officially tell you that we are moving closer to agreeing some dates to shoot. If that sounds like a party line, it is. That is proper progress because Ben and Martin and Steven are so busy, but actually trying to get everybody to interlock is... we have made significant progress."
Despite being optimistic, neither Moffat nor Gatiss were willing to give specifics of the dates that they've got narrowed down. So what about that one-off special that Freeman mentioned? "There was talk [of a one-off film, but] amongst people who have nothing to do with Sherlock, I'm afraid," Gatiss replied shortly, according to Digital Spy.
Sherlock has fewer episodes per season than most shows, but since each episode is 90 minutes long the show requires a fairly generous production schedule that's understandably difficult to fit in around the actors' filming commitments and press tours. Jude Law has said similar things of Sherlock Holmes 3, since between his and Robert Downey Jr.'s busy timetables, sectioning off a spare few months to produce another sequel has been a "slow process."
Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle's characters can at least get their Sherlock Holmes fix this fall, when Elementary returns for a third season, but hopefully we won't have to wait too many years for the next season of Sherlock.
We'll keep you updated on any further Sherlock season 4 developments.