It would seem that the BBC have outdone themselves with “Sherlock. It is a genius piece of work and absolutely A1. Worth the license fee, every penny. Minor spoilers, below but nothing you shouldn’t be aware of.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
in BBC/Hartswood Films, Sherlock

Mark Gattis (the lanky one from ‘The League of Gentlemen’) has co-created it with Steven Moffat (Doctor Who). The concept is the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes but set in contemporary England. Not unlike the Basil Rathbone Sherlocks of the 1940’s – ie a current Holmes. Apparently, the pilot episode was made in January last year and this led to the commissioning of the full series. Sadly there’s only three episodes, but with writing like this, if there aren’t more, then I’ll eat my deerstalker.

Resetting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters back into the present day has just worked perfectly. Dr Watson is now an army doctor recently returned from the Afghanistan war, which provides a wonderful symmetry with the original Watson who was an army doctor in the 2nd Afghan war (1878-1880). He’s instantly believable and artfully portrayed by Martin Freeman. Mr Freeman is of course very well known from ‘The Office’ and the porn body double in ‘Love Actually’ as well as the remake of ‘Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy’.

Happy to say that Mr Gattis has a role for himself; as a big-wig in the British government. Other notables and honest to the original stories are the likes of Rupert Graves as Detective Inspector Lestrade and Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson, their long-suffering landlady (not housekeeper).

The name of the moment has to be Benedict Cumberbatch who has the role of the main man himself – SH (as he refers to himself via SMS message).  He’s reasonably well known for playing the part of Professor Steven Hawking in “Hawking” (one name drama must be his thing), although I recognised him as the University Challenge mentor from Starter for 10 which was a great coming-of-age piece.  He’s just focused enough to appear to be completely distracted, and so that makes him a perfect Holmes. My personal favourite character though, has to be Dr Watson’s potential love interest. She is beautifully dismissive in every way. Go and watch it.

The writing is what makes it for me. It’s not just funny, it’s clever too (don’t you just hate people who are both funny and clever!!??).  What’s particularly clever is how they’ve worked in so many original plot points but in a way that makes them fit with modern England.  For example, Holmes doesn’t smoke or take drugs (as is often alluded to in other adaptations) but we have a great scene where he appears to be rubbing his arm in a post injected kind of way. What’s revealed though, is how he’s applied 3 nicotine patches to help him think.  Conan-Doyle’s original had Watson keeping a journal, of course now he has a blog: http://www.johnwatsonblog.co.uk/ and when he first meets Sherlock, what does he do, but what we would all do.  He google’s him and finds Sherlock’s website: The Science of Deduction. All these elements are simply magic and add a whole extra layer of entertainment.

The direction is sharp and snappy and the photography is beautifully done, with London looking appropriately moody, the use of bullet-time (almost unnoticeable, meaning ‘used perfectly’) and great sets (a deliciously intimidating Warehouse being just one). If you’ve seen “Lucky Number Slevin” then you’ll understand why it’s so polished, when you realise Paul McGuigan is also on-board here.

Personally I can’t wait until next Sunday.  More please!!… oh and just so you know, it says here that Sherlock is simulcast on BBC1 and the BBC HD channel (available through Freesat 108, Freeview 50, Sky 143 and Virgin 108).

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