A still image from Episode 1 of Sherlock Season 4 featuring Mary, Watson, their newborn and Sherlock.

‘Sherlock’ Season 4: Post Real Life Split, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington Filmed Their Scenes As Newlyweds

Sherlock Season 4 newlyweds are no longer a real life couple. Martin Freeman, who plays Dr. Watson, and Amanda Abbington, who plays Mary Morstan, have split after 16 years together. The couple reportedly separated two weeks before the production on Sherlock Season 4 commenced.

Both Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington have confirmed the “amicable” split, but only the latter has chosen to reveal the reason behind the split. Freeman’s busy acting schedule is the reason why the longtime partners, who first met in 2000 and have been together since 2001, pulled the plug on their relationship, according to Abbington.

The Sherlock actress also told Sunday Telegraph that the coincidence between the real relationship and their characters’ relationship — Watson and Mary’s marriage — was “so weird,” adding that while filming their scenes as new parents, they were revisiting the early phase of their real relationship. Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington share two children, Joe, 10, and Grace, 8, in real life, while their onscreen characters are set to become first-time parents in Season 4.

“Especially playing new parents again, up all night feeding and things, because we were effectively revisiting how it was when we first got together.”

There is a possibility that Watson and Mary’s relationship might end up mirroring reality in Sherlock Season 4. The Telegraph reports that cracks start to appear in the couple’s marriage after the arrival of their baby daughter, Rosamund Mary Watson — earlier this month, the newborn’s name was revealed via The Daily Telegraph’s birth column.

Abbington said that the episode made them think whether they are doing the right thing as it featured some pressure points. The report did not reveal details about the pressure points.

“I love working with Martin, and we definitely would do again, but there were some pressure points in this episode where we thought, ‘oh, are we doing the right thing here?’, but the resounding answer was always yes.”

Freeman and Abbington’s characters walked down the aisle in Episode 2 of Sherlock Season 3, with Sherlock Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, acting as Dr. Watson’s best man at the wedding ceremony. The episode also saw Sherlock vowing to be there for the three of them — Watson, Mary and their unborn child — unintentionally revealing that Mary was pregnant.

Episode 1 of Sherlock Season 4, titled “The Six Thatchers,” will see Dr. Watson and Mary facing challenges as newlyweds as well as first-time parents, which the new season’s synopsis calls their biggest challenge ever. At Comic-Con 2016, Abbington said that Sherlock Season 4 was the darkest season, adding that they were “overwhelmed” when they first read the script.

“It’s the darkest that Steven and Mark have written. When we read them, we were kind of overwhelmed by them because they were shocking and amazing.”

And in July, on her Twitter feed, the actress posted a picture featuring an engagement ring laid on top of the show’s call sheet. The caption said that it was a “Golden Wrap” on Mary. The picture and the caption set off speculations about her character’s divorce as well as about her role coming to an end.

Meanwhile, Radio Times’ spoiler-free review of Sherlock Season 4 Episode 1 says that the premiere episode provides more details about Mary’s backstory as a special operative.

“The Six Thatchers” synopsis indicates that the first mysterious case of the season may have something to do with Mary’s past.

“One mysterious case in particular baffles Scotland Yard – but Sherlock is more interested in a seemingly trivial detail. Why is someone destroying images of the late prime minister Thatcher? Is there a madman on the loose? Or is there a much darker purpose at work? Something with its roots deep in Mary Watson’s past.”

Abbington joined the Sherlock cast in Season 3. The news of her casting was met with a hostile reaction, as Sherlock-Watson fans felt that she would become the third wheel. They feared that the writers would dilute the bromance between the famous detective and his stalwart sidekick to give more screen time to Watson and Mary’s romance.

It is not just the show and its characters that have a fanatic following, but Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman also have a huge fan-following and enjoy mega-star status. Sherlock has catapulted both Cumberbatch and Freeman into superstardom, making them two of the busiest British actors in Hollywood.

Speaking of Freeman’s busy acting schedule, Abbington said to Sunday Telegraph that because of his projects in the U.S., she was able to communicate with him only via Skype. Also, she had to take care of their children all alone. They continue to love each other, but they no longer have the same connection, according to the actress.

“You can’t be away from people for too long, because you start to function on your own, and you get used to being separate [from] the person you’re supposed to be with. You lose that connection and lose sight of it, in the end.”

Sherlock Season 4 premieres on January 1 on PBS in the U.S. and on BBC One in the U.K.

[Featured Image by Sherlock/BBC One]

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