Despite a ravenous fanbase and a lot of media attention, The BBC’s Sherlock may be drawing to a close. Though only a handful of episodes long, the production realities — mostly scheduling the key participants — may be too much to allow for another season.
Or, at least, that’s what co-creator Mark Gatiss said on a recent A Stab in the Dark podcast episode (via HeyUGuys). “It was very, very hard to schedule the last series, because of Martin [Freeman] and Benedict [Cumberbatch]’s availability. And Steve [Moffat]’s and mine,” he said. Both Cumberbatch and Martin are in-demand actors with long-term commitments to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Moffat is coming off Doctor Who and joining Gatiss on a new version of Dracula. With the four constantly working, making the time for episodes, even with the ability to wait years in between productions blocks, is virtually impossible.
“There is always that Fawlty Towers principle of, ‘Let’s just leave it’.” Gatiss continued. That series, created by John Cleese and Connie Booth, ran for two seasons — with a four year gap in between them — before they called it quits.
But he also noted that “the keys to Baker Street” are always shared. Referring to CBS’s Elementary, he said, “They were shared while we were making it.” Though the mixture of creative elements made Sherlock unique, the format is open to anyone with their own spin on the consulting detective and Dr. Watson. As Gattis put it, “There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘That was our version, somebody out there go and do their version.'”
And the breadth of versions already varies wildly. There was an ITV Sherlock Holmes featuring a more traditional approach and starring Jeremy Brett from 1984-1994. It also took long breaks in between seasons. In the 1940s, Universal produced a series of Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone in which the characters were updated to the times and fighting Nazis. Elementary itself also makes further changes beyond Sherlock‘s modern take.
At the same time, one of the great things about British television is the ability to walk away for years. It allows some of us to hope for a second season of State of Play. While Gatiss may doubt the future, schedules may line up for at least one more run.