What do we know about Sherlock series 3?

Feature Den Of Geek 3 May 2013 - 07:00

We tot up the facts, rumours, and spoilers circulating about Sherlock’s currently filming third series…

Spoiler warning: we've tried to structure this in a way that means those who want to avoid spoilers, can.

The answer to that question, like most, depends very much on whom you ask. Pose it to the average, non-TV obsessed fellow in the street and they might reply, Sherlock, that’s the one with the flappy coated chap and him from The Office who’s now him from The Hobbit. They’re doing a third series? That’s grand, that. The wife’ll be pleased.

Burrow further into Sherlock fandom and ask someone familiar with the #setlock hashtag and the Purple Shirt of Sex though, and you’ll likely receive not just an answer, but a shooting schedule, a Tumblr of set-visit snaps, and a PowerPoint presentation explaining by which exact methods Holmes faked that rooftop jump. It’s all an Inception-like question of how deep you go.

It’s for that reason we’ve structured this round-up in the following way. First, there are officially stamped things we absolutely know (writers, directors, cast, titles and so on…), then, there are things that we only think we know, having pieced them together from hints and tidbits here and there, and next are the things we have not the foggiest clue about. Finally, and you’re urged to use the exit-ramp provided and drive off to spoiler-free happiness before getting to this one, there are the things we shouldn’t know, but due to the tireless work of fans on social networks, sort of might.

What we definitely know

Episode one, titled The Empty Hearse (a pun on Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Empty House) was written by co-creator and Mycroft Holmes actor, Mark Gatiss. Gatiss previously wrote series one finale The Great Game, and series two’s The Hounds of Baskerville. Behind the camera is Spooks and In Fear director Jeremy Lovering.

Episode two, The Sign of Three (a twist on Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four) was written by Stephen Thompson, whose previous Sherlock scripts were series one’s The Blind Banker and series two’s impressive The Reichenbach Fall and whose Doctor Who work includes Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and The Curse of the Black Spot. Directing is Doctor Who, Ripper Street, and Spooks’ Colm McCarthy.

Episode three was written by Doctor Who showrunner and Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat, whose previous Holmes scripts were series one’s A Study In Pink, and series two’s A Scandal in Belgravia. Directing is Nick Hurran, who’s also behind the camera for Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary episode.

The returning cast includes (of course) Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Watson, alongside Una Stubbs (Mrs Hudson), Louise Brealey (Molly Hooper), Mark Gatiss (Mycroft Holmes), Rupert Graves (Lestrade), and Jonathan Aris (Anderson).

Mr Selfridge and Case Studies actress Amanda Abbington is joining the group as Mary, a role “that significantly impacts on the lives of John and Sherlock”. Andrew Scott, the unforgettable Moriarty, along with a number of supporting cast from The Reichenbach Fall, also returned to The Empty Hearse shoot to film scenes explaining Sherlock’s rooftop jump.

Composer Michael Price is back on music duty for the series, though thanks to his clashing Hollywood schedule, director Paul McGuigan (A Study in PinkThe Great GameA Scandal in BelgraviaThe Hounds of Baskerville) will not be returning.

Filming is currently at the halfway point for the second episode. 

What we think we know

Going all the way back to 2012’s Edinburgh Television Festival, co-creators and producer Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, and Sue Vertue announced three hints to the series three episodes: Rat, Wedding, and Bow. Like series two’s Woman, Hound, Fall, these three nouns potentially hold clues as to which parts of Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories will be rolled into the three new adventures.

While ‘Rat’ is still to reveal its meaning (we had a few thoughts, here), and ‘Bow’ is considered a reference to the non-Watson-narrated Conan Doyle WWI spy story His Last Bow, it’s commonly thought that ‘Wedding’ relates to the wedding of John Watson and Mary Morstan (preumably the "Mary" played by Amanda Abbington, coincidentally Martin Freeman's real-life partner).

Also confirmed by the BBC, but not yet officially announced, is the appearance of My Mad Fat Diary actress Sharon Rooney, playing the as-yet-unspecified role of Laura in The Empty Hearse.

What we don’t know

Anything about the third episode in the series, apart from its writer (Steven Moffat), director (Nick Hurran), and the fact it’s due to be filmed after a summer break during which time Martin Freeman will be back on The Hobbit duties.

The broadcast date is also unknown, though winter 2013/2014 is likely to be the earliest that Sherlock returns to our screens.

Though there are theories and spoilers around for the explanation (especially so after the outside filming for The Empty Hearse), we don't know precisely how Sherlock faked his own death, or indeed, what Derren Brown was doing at the St Barts reconstruction shoot.

What we’re not supposed to know

There’s plenty. Seriously, an awful lot of observation, note-taking, photographs and piecing-together about series three has been and is being done online. Should you wish to go looking for it, you’ll find it easily enough.

We’re careful with spoilers round here, overly cautious some would say, but that’s how we like to keep shop. If you choose to come here, why should you run the risk of having surprises ruined? Similarly, if writers, directors and actors ask us to keep their secrets, why wouldn’t we do that?

If, however, you can’t bear to wait, here are a few words to point you in the direction of the relevant online chat. Search for moustache, motorbike, Bonfire Night, head-butt, kebab shop, Molly in the window, Goldney Hall, Major Shilto, Harry, and best man in combination with #setlock and you should find a great deal of illicit bits and pieces to chew over.

Read our theories on how Sherlock survived his fall, here.

Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.

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It's my turn to be 'correction guy' but the Doyle version is "The sign of Four" - you've repeated the new title by accident

What do we know about Sherlock Series 3? That they should get on with getting it filmed and on the box.

My theory about how Sherlock faked his own death is that it was a corpse with esthetic surgery done on him to look like Sherlock who was pushed from the roof.

Will an episode be set on Middle Earth?

Damn, don't you proofread? Or even just use spell-check? Thanks for the article, just do some revising.

I lived in Goldney Hall in my first year at Bristol (now 2nd year) I'm interested to see how they utilise the grotto (2nd picture in the article) as it really is a cool little spot, hopefully they do something interesting with it despite its small size :)

Seems to be fixed now.

Haha! Hilarious. It's funny cos he's in the hobbit.

Get out of here.

I think the "rat" in question is Sgt. Donovan. She and Sherlock's school mate from university are the only two people on the show who've referred to him as "freak". Sherlock introduced John to her as an "old friend" but of course we know Sherlock only has one true friend and he considers John to be it (from the Hound of Baskerville episode). As for "bow"...there's the story called The Adventure of The Gloria Scott. That's a boat and the story is Holmes' earliest known bit of detection. Watson wasn't involved.

Web sources have reported there's a boat involved in episode three and my guess is that's the "bow" in question.

We know the series has been renewed for season 4 so episode three will certainly not conclude with Sherlock retiring to Sussex. When that happens the clue is likely to be "bees" since Holmes was to retire to bee keeping.

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