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'Sherlock': Everything we know about series three

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In case you weren't aware, Sherlock has finally begun the long journey back to our screens - yesterday (Monday, March 11) marked the first read-through for the hit detective drama's long-awaited third series, with that pair of jokers Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman posting a suitably silly picture online to mark the occasion...

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman during Sherlock read-through

© Twitter / BBC One

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman



But at this stage, with a transmission date for the new episodes unconfirmed, how much do we actually *know* about Sherlock series three? As ever, the Week in Geek is on hand to provide you with all the pertinent information!

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First off, as should now be evident, despite insanely busy schedules that took them to Middle Earth, the Final Frontier and everywhere in between, our leads Cumberbatch and Freeman are finally back in residence at 221B Baker Street.

Expect one notable absence from the cast though - it's looking pretty certain that Andrew Scott won't be back as the wonderfully unhinged Moriarty. "I don't want [Sherlock] to turn into a show that's about one villain and one hero," Steven Moffat said way back in March 2012. "Moriarty was great because he was a surprise. Every time you bring him back he won't be as big a surprise."

Of course, Moffat's been known to deceive his viewers for the sake of a good story, but Scott himself told Digital Spy that it would be "very hard" to resurrect his manic villain following that explosive rooftop confrontation...


Behind the scenes, things are also in flux - on the writing front, established trio Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Steve Thompson have again assembled to deliver three feature-length adventures for television.

But Paul McGuigan - the Scottish filmmaker who directed four of Sherlock's previous six episodes and is often credited with helping create the show's unique visual style - is off to pastures new, with Colm McCarthy (Doctor Who, Ripper Street) and Jeremy Lovering (Spooks) stepping in to fill the void.

With Moriarty absent, Sherlock will need a new foe to face, so it's just as well that the opening episode of series three is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Adventure of the Empty House', which introduces the second most famous villain in the Holmes canon - one Sebastian Moran.

'Empty House' was an obvious choice for the third series opener - given that it's the story in which Sherlock makes his dramatic return - but it wasn't until Mark Gatiss confirmed to DS that he was penning an episode 'loosely based' on Doyle's tale of murder and vice that fans knew for certain.

In addition to presumably introducing Moran, the first Sherlock episode back will also see John (Martin Freeman) learn the truth about his friend's survival - with Martin Freeman telling us that "fainting might not quite cut it" in terms of a suitable reaction...


Mark Gatiss agreed that "a stream of terrible swear words" seems more fitting than how Doyle originally wrote it. But while we've had a hint or two about Watson's mindset following Sherlock's deception, what we still don't know - and hopefully won't until the series three premiere airs - is exactly *how* Holmes fooled his friend and the world at large.

Insiders tell us that Gatiss's script for episode one was originally dispatched with the relevant 'howdunnit' section excised, with only a trusted few in on the secret, even with production looming.

With the Sherlock team keeping their cards characteristically close to their chest, hints about what to expect story-wise from series three have been scarce - beyond that 'Empty House' reveal. But at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August 2012, Moffat and Gatiss did reveal three teaser words - clues as to what to expect from the three new TV films.

This is the point where we stray from facts into speculation, but first teaser 'WEDDING' could hint at an adaptation of short story 'The Noble Bachelor', 'RAT' has been linked to 'The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire' and its tales of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, while third and final hint 'BOW' likely refers to 'His Last Bow' - a fitting title for a third series finale...

Sherlock S02E03: 'The Reichenbach Fall'

© BBC / Hartswood



Only one question is left to be addressed then - when exactly will Sherlock return? While final transmission dates are decided very, very late in the day, a spokesperson for US broadcaster PBS has said that new episodes are likely to air in the States in either late 2013 or early 2014 - so don't be surprised to see BBC One slot the show into the final weeks of this year's schedule.

So that's what we do know. Though perhaps fittingly given that it has a character so intensely enigmatic at its core, there's still a good deal that we *don't* know about Sherlock series three - and that's just how all involved with the show want it...

Are you excited for Sherlock series three? Let us know below!

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