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Sherlock series 4

Steven Moffat: 'Sherlock' is clever television

'Sherlock' co-creator Steven Moffat talks Benedict Cumberbatch's sex symbol status, the trouble with clickbait and filming series four in London

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

‘Sherlock’ co-creator Steven Moffat is the keeper of secrets, the protector of telly spoilers and a self-titled ‘grumpy old man’. He’s also dominating our TV screens over Christmas with a ‘Doctor Who’ special followed by the return of Benedict Cumberbatch’s celebrated sleuth. We spoke to him ahead of the drama's series four premiere.

'Benedict's mum didn't think he was good-looking enough to play Sherlock. Nobody did. He never thought of himself as good-looking and everyone casually agreed with him. He still regards it as preposterous that heís become this sex symbol.'

'Only great actors do well as Sherlock Holmes. It's a silly part. You have to have that weight, style and gravitas to anchor him and make him real. Cumberbatch is an utterly brilliant actor. He will go down in history.'

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock series 4

'We never said this is the last series of "Sherlock". Both Benedict and I have been interviewed recently and in both cases we said we were quite keen to continue. The clickbait era has done nothing for truth. Perfectly reasonable things I say are mashed up, added to and misquoted. I wish it would stop.'

'Sherlock is evolving. We made Sherlock and Watson far younger than they normally are. The image of Sherlock as a mighty hero brooding away in Baker Street and keeping England safe is in Benedict’s future. That’s the man he’s going to become.’

'I always watch "Sherlock" and "Doctor Who" air. The awareness that the nation is watching clarifies things. You suddenly think: Hang on, that's not clear at all. Or: That's much funnier than I thought. It's a bracing experience.'

'London is a great backdrop for "Sherlock". Living in it, I tend to forget how beautiful it is. We only shoot here for a few days, though [Cardiff stands in most of time]. If there isn't a London landmark in the background, it probably isn't London.'

Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock series 4

'"Sherlock" is clever television. We're not making concessions. People are clever! Sometimes viewers claim things are too complex for them as if it were a badge of greatness. Particularly in the case of "Doctor Who" I always want to say "You are boasting about not understanding a show that eight-year-olds are following quite happily. What's wrong with you?"'

'Christmas TV should feel Christmassy. It has to be a little bit "It's a Wonderful Life". I'm old-fashioned that way. I feel slightly grumpy if I watch a Christmas special and it's someone's summer holiday. I don't think it has to be all trees, tinsel and snow, but I want to see a bit of Christmas.'

The fourth series of 'Sherlock' starts on New Year's Day at 8.30pm on BBC1. 

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