The fourth season of the BBC’s adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock, is set to return in the new year and excitement is continuing to build for fans of Benedict Cumberbatch’s amateur sleuth. Installments of the series are notoriously few and far between, partly due to co-stars Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman both ascending to Hollywood stardom and partly because co-creator Steven Moffat also has a full-time gig heading up Doctor Who.
Nevertheless, the show’s fourth season promises a new dynamic thanks to the arrival of a (very) new member of Sherlock’s inner circle: Watson’s newborn child. In season three, the addition of Amanda Abbington to the cast as John Watson’s partner – also Freeman’s real-life wife, incidentally – shook up the detective duo’s relationship and there’s no doubt that the arrival of Baby Watson will continue to test both their friendship and their tolerance for each other’s quirks.
Benedict Cumberbatch has, in an interview with THR, now offered some insight into what it was like to work, not only with babies on-set, but also with a large Bloodhound dog that will make an appearance this season. Cumberbatch states:
"I think Sherlock feels very protective towards them as a family but he’s not a natural or a figure of authority when it comes to a new-born... He’s seemingly indifferent, which is comic at times but it’s all underpinned with a deep love and he’s a guardian angel really. The babies [on set] have been pretty amazing, I’m a father and I know how difficult it is to get anything in tune with a baby’s schedule. It keeps you in the moment and it stops you being precious about your work. I love those elements that make it more difficult."
On the canine addition to the cast, Benedict claims:
"He was very sweet but was a bit afraid of being in the center of town, afraid of too many people and not great on hard surfaces. We were in Borough Market, with lots of people around, on concrete and tarmac. Cut to Amanda literally pulling a bloodhound around London who was supposed to pull her around London. That was fun."
The stars of Sherlock have often spoken regarding the positive atmosphere on set and their desire to continue with the show despite the central duo moving on to bigger things and it sounds as if the new members of the cast have only increased the fun and frolics during filming. For fans fearing that season four may move too far away from the show’s roots however, Cumberbatch promises more of the same old Sherlock, saying that the detective is still trying to be “superhuman” and still struggles to see what’s right in front of him at times.
Sherlock’s most recent outing, ‘The Abominable Bride’, aired earlier this year but was – to some extent – a standalone venture that featured a drugged-up Sherlock imagining himself solving a case in Victorian London. The surreal nature of the episode received a mixed reaction from audiences and there’s little doubt that many fans will be hoping season four reverts back to the standard Sherlock tone and format that worked so well for the previous three seasons.
The muted reception to ‘The Abominable Bride’ doesn’t seem to have damaged the show’s reputation however, and – particularly in the United Kingdom – the show remains true event television. With season four promising a return to the show’s primary continuity – and with the hint that the influence of Sherlock’s nemesis Moriarty may live on – there’s every chance Sherlock season four will be a resounding success. They may say “never work with children or animals” in the acting business but it seems Benedict Cumberbatch has done both and had a great time anyway.
Sherlock returns January 1st, 2017 on BBC1 in the U.K. and on PBS Masterpiece in the U.S.