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Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Sherlock' (Pic: BBC)
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Sherlock' (Pic: BBC)
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Sherlock’ (Pic: BBC)

There’s a lovely interview with Sherlock’s writer, exec producer and star Mark Gatiss over at Radio Times, in which he describes the process of making a Victorian version of the modern day version of the Victorian Sherlock Holmes stories as being “reverse engineered,” and noted with delight that some people find the idea of a Victorian Sherlock hard to imagine.

He explained that it was actually fairly hard to re-home the things that work well in the modern Sherlock back in the Victorian era, even though these were often modern updates of things that existed in the original stories: “”We’ve spent so long successfully modernizing it. We had to sort of go back to basics.

“What we initially did was to come up with modern equivalents for all the Victorian things. So in this we go back to the original. The texting is sending telegrams. We just reverse engineered it to how Conan Doyle did it.”

And he said that putting the characters back in their original context was something of a fanboy’s dream for both him and Steven Moffat: “It was thrilling for me and Steven because obviously the Victorian version is what we’ve grown up loving. We thought, we’ve got a unique opportunity here to do something different.

“It’s not suddenly going to be a different show. It’s essentially our Sherlock as if we’d always done it set in 1895. It has the same sensibility. The language is obviously slightly different but we wanted it to feel as funny and as vivid and as getable as our modern-day one. Otherwise it would be a sort of dusty period piece which is not what we are interested in.”

And if nothing else, the move back in time has served to educate some people on where these stories came from in the first place: “The most incredible thing was when we did the press for it, three people said something along the lines of, ‘How can Sherlock Holmes possibly exist in a world without iPhones?’ I said, ‘Well, there is a slight precedent there!’

“If we’ve successfully convinced the world that he’s a modern character then our work is done!”

See more:
Personality Quiz: Which Sherlock Holmes are You?
Steven Moffat on ‘Sherlock’: ‘I Think Arthur Conan Doyle Could Catch Up With Us and He’s Dead’
Steven Moffat and the Lost Scene Between Sherlock and Irene Adler
Mark Gatiss on ‘Sherlock’s First Collaborative Script

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By Fraser McAlpine