Benedict Cumberbatch is very much an actor in demand. Having wrapped principal photography on Marvel’s Doctor Strange, the actor is throwing himself straight back into work to start filming Season 4 of the BBC drama Sherlock. Fans have been baying for his return to the role for months now, and even a successful Christmas special wasn’t enough to sate the appetite of fans who love the modern spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous sleuth.
However, with rumors circulating of major cast additions — the most interesting of which is Tom Hiddleston as a third Holmes brother, as reported by Bustle — co-showrunner Steven Moffat has stepped out to drop some clues about the upcoming season, and hinted that, while nothing is set in stone, this could be the final season of the show.
“Sherlock series four – here we go again! Whatever else we do, wherever we all go, all roads lead back to Baker Street – and it always feels like coming home. Ghosts of the past are rising in the lives of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson bringing adventure, romance and terror in their wake. This is the story we’ve been telling from the beginning. A story about to reach its climax…”
The key word is climax, and if the words are taken literally here, it could mean we are about to witness the end of one of the BBC’s more successful shows in recent times. While Sherlock is immensely popular, as evidenced by the ratings and heavy demand for a new season, Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman both have successful careers in Hollywood to concern themselves with. It could also mean something else: the end of a long-running story arc, one that began in earlier seasons and will finish in Season 4. Remember, Sherlock’s uncertain fate was left up in the air at the end of Season 3, and although the Christmas special touched on this, and ironed out some creases, nothing is ever what it seems on the show.
In fact, the reason Season 4 has taken so long to come about is because Cumberbatch is very much in demand, and finding time to fit filming into his packed schedule, not to mention the other cast members, is probably becoming tougher by the day. During an interview with the Mirror — in which Steven Moffatt and co-creator Mark Gatiss discussed the potential of a Sherlock movie — Gatiss confirmed just that.
“We’re doing three more episodes of Sherlock next spring, then we’ll see. Obviously Benedict and Martin are both hugely successful film stars, but they’re both very keen to do more. It is, genuinely, increasingly difficult to get together. It’s taken us a long time to get these dates fixed. It’s like a chess game and you fix one bit and something else moves. We all certainly want to do more.”
However, the demand is still there, so maybe a movie is the easier way to go. The Abominable Bride, which aired as a Christmas Special in 2015, was shown in cinemas around the world during the festive season as part of a deal with BBC Worldwide. 1.7 million fans watched in China, amassing receipts of $5 million on 735 screens, and 18,500 U.K. fans opted to watch it at their local cinema instead of BBC 1, who aired it at the same time. It also showed in 20 other countries, including the U.S, Mexico, and Australia. On this evidence, a film would be successful, and have worldwide appeal. Remember, the episodes themselves are the same length as a movie, so it wouldn’t be a drastic change from format. Maybe the big screen is the best resolution, and the only way to continue Sherlock into the future.
The show is very popular, so the end isn’t something that will be taken lightly, and things have a habit of changing at the last minute. However, with the actor’s schedules becoming tighter and more difficult, and fans baying for more, maybe the show runners should take the show to Hollywood, and not the other way around. Worse things have happened.
Will Season 4 be the last season of Sherlock? Find out when the show returns to BBC 1 in 2017.
[Image via the BBC]