Sherlock: 33 nerdy spots in The Six Thatchers

Did you spot the tease for next week’s episode in the Sherlock series 4 opener? See that and more details from The Six Thatchers…

After taking a fine-toothed comb to new Sherlock episode The Six Thatchers (well, watching it with one finger hovering over the pause button) here are a few items of note discovered, in addition to a handful of discoveries made by some very fine Sherlock detectives elsewhere…

1. We know that Lady Smallwood’s British Intelligence code name is ‘Love’, leaving the Holmes brothers and Sir Edwin to divvy up ‘Antarctica’, ‘Langdale’ and ‘Porlock’ between them. Porlock (as well as being a village in Somerset whence came S.T. Coleridge’s famed interrupting ‘person from Porlock’) was the alias of an agent working for Moriarty in Conan Doyle novel The Valley Of Fear. Langdale Pike was a character in The Adventure Of The Three Gables. But Antarctica? Perhaps that’s a fittingly chilly name for “never been very good with [humans]” Mycroft?

2. It looks as though the opening credits have been updated for series four. They now feature a post-swimming-pool-fight Sherlock, Watson standing in what looks like a well and a lump of something odd in one of Sherlock’s posh Ali Miller teacups.

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3. It’s hardly hidden, but there seemed to be plenty of focus on 221B’s skull décor in the episode, which was all about the impossibility of outrunning death. Symbolism! Additionally, the black fish mobile in Rosie’s nursery could either be foreshadowing the location of her mother’s death, or, you know, just some fish.

4. This is what John was typing in his “221Back” blog entry:

And we’re back! Sorry I haven’t updated the blog for such a long time but things really have been very busy. You’ll have seen on the news about how Sherlock recovered the Mona Lisa. He described it as “an utterly dreary affair” and was much more interested in the the case of a missing horseshoe and how it was connected to a bright blue deckchair on Brighton beach.

I’ll try to write everything up when I get a chance but it’s not been missing portraits and horseshoes that have taken up my time.

I’m going to be a dad.

I mean, I thought I’d spent the last few years being a Dad to Sherlock, but it really doesn’t compare. The baby runs all of our lives. Maybe not THAT different to [….] I’ve fought in two wars, my best friend once faked his own death but none of that [….] terrifying and amazing and the biggest adventure I’ve been on.”

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5. There’s a teensy error here, apparently. Look closely at the screenshot of John Watson writing his blog and the filename revealing him to be ‘typing’ into a static JPG image file is on display. Source: Daily Edge

6. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story A Scandal In Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes tells John Watson “You see, but you do not observe.” In The Six Thatchers, he makes the same complaint to baby Rosie Watson. 

7. The number 626 bus, which John takes to work, is a real bus line running from Finchley to Potter’s Bar.

8. The advert on the side of John’s bus is for ‘Strawb Fizz’, sweets with ‘explosive flavour’. That’s not a real product as far as know, so must have been custom-made, but why? Could there be an explosion in Sherlock’s future? Or some strawberries…

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9. As John gets off the bus with the flower behind his ear, a passenger can be spotted carrying a newspaper with a headline ending “…be in two places at once?” a possible reference to the case of The Duplicate Man that flashed up earlier on screen asking: “How could Derek Parkinson be in two places at the same time? And murdered in one of them?”. It’s never twins, remember.

10. The bus/flower scene was inspired by the same thing happening in real life to a friend of Mark Gatiss called, aptly enough, Edmund Moriarty: “His daughter was very young and he’d been up all night with her and he got on the tube to White City and this very beautiful girl started smiling at him and he thought ‘Still got it!’ and he got all the way there and got to work, looked in the mirror and he had a flower in his hair and that’s what she’d been looking at” Gatiss told the audience at a December screening of the episode.

11. The big hint for episode two, The Lying Detective, is spotted behind John’s texting partner ‘E’ at the bus stop. It’s a poster featuring Toby Jones in character as Culverton Smith, advertising either a new film, TV series or book featuring the character titled something containing the words ‘business’ and ‘murder’.  The words ‘coming soon’ and ‘he’s back’ are also clearly visible… (Watson also walks past a poster for The Book Of Mormon, but not sure that’s strictly relevant here.)

12. ‘E’, the woman John meets on the bus, appears in the credits as Elizabeth and is played by Sian Brooke, who played Ophelia to Benedict Cumberbatch’s much-publicised Hamlet at the Barbican in 2015. Look away now if you don’t want a potential spoiler revealed: Brooke was also spotted filming scenes for episode two The Lying Detective, and is referred to by setlockers as “The Lady In Red”.

13. A tenuous one this, but here goes: when John is texting ‘E’ late and asks if she’s a night owl, she replies “vampire”. The Adventure Of The Sussex Vampire is a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story about a dysfunctional family and a jealous, abusive brother attempting to do away with his younger sibling. Could her jokey answer be a clue to Elizabeth’s back story?

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14. There may be a long list of things Sherlock Holmes doesn’t know about (former prime ministers?), but William Shakespeare isn’t on it (Conan Doyle’s “the game is afoot” catchphrase comes from Henry V, incidentally). In The Six Thatchers, Sherlock quotes “by the pricking of my thumbs” from Macbeth. Unless of course, he’s quoting from that other classic British detective writer, Agatha Christie…

15. The Power Ranger strapped to the front of Charlie Welsborough’s Ford was the Blue Ranger. Not sure if that’s relevant, but just being thorough.

16. The continued references to the Black Pearl of the Borgias are a connection to The Adventure Of The Six Napoleons. Said pearl was the treasure hidden inside one of six plaster busts of Napoleon in the original story.

17. Writer Mark Gatiss didn’t only borrow the premise of The Adventure Of The Six Napoleons from Conan Doyle for this modern update but also some names. Thatcher bust distributors Gelder and Co. were also the distributors of the Napoleon busts in the original story. Barnicot, Harker and Sandeford, bust owners, are also repeated between the two.

18. Toby the bloodhound proved a difficult co-star, as Steven Moffat told the Q&A audience in December: “It didn’t move! That was an immobile dog! You know that scene where they’re talking about the dog that won’t move, me and Mark [Gatiss] wrote that on the street to account for the fact the dog wouldn’t move. It just sat there like an ornament!”

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19. Toby lives with Craig the hacker. In Craig’s room is a street sign for Pinchin Lane, which is where the original Toby the dog lived (with a Mr Sherman) according to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Sign Of Four. Source: Vanity Fair

20. This isn’t the first time Ajay actor Sacha Dhawan has appeared in a Mark Gatiss-written script. He played Waris Hussein in 2013 Doctor Who docudrama An Adventure In Space And Time and then the lead in that year’s The Tractate Middoth.

21. According to this website, there’s a real-life hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia called The Sherlock. Now you know.

22. Mary-in-disguise’s fellow plane passenger was played by James Holmes. No relation.

23. A close-up of one of Mary’s fake IDs reveals one of her aliases to be Gabrielle Ashdown. ‘Gabrielle’ was the fake name used by spy Ilse von Hoffmanstal in 1970 Billy Wilder film The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, and ‘Ashdown’ was the alias she used when pretending to be married to Holmes, then later alone in Japan. Source: Vanity Fair

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24. The name painted on the boat Mary walks past in Norway, Flekkete Band, means Speckled Band, another Conan Doyle story title. Source: @ingridebs

25. Apparently the name on the boat behind, Løvens Manke, means Lion’s Mane, yet another original Holmes adventure reference, as spotted by Tumblr user Cupidford here.

26. We won’t repeat them all here, but this terrific Tumblr page is full of links between Sherlock’s flurry of cases at the beginning of the episode and the original Conan Doyle stories. Find out how the man with the Japanese girlfriend tattoo relates to The Adventure Of The Red Headed League and many more.

27. Throughout the harrowing London Aquarium scenes, filmed in a single day, the team kept themselves amused by inventing facts about sharks, as relevant to their location. “Sharks like beans”, “sharks cannot spell” and so on…

28. Unlike that popular myth, sharks do sleep. In fact, the ones at London Aquarium have to be in bed by 2am, which made filming there difficult and is perhaps why it looks very much as though some scenes are set against a video screen of fish swimming rather than the real thing. “One of the things we did find hard was the aquarium,” said producer Sue Vertue, “which we tried for ages to work out if we could film everything in the aquarium and then we realised that sharks sleep at night. So we had to find another way around doing that.”

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29. Mark Gatiss said at the Q&A in December that they had always planned for Mary to die sacrificing herself: “It was always going to be saving Sherlock.”

30. When Sherlock asks Mrs Hudson at the end to say the word ‘Norbury’ to him if she ever thinks he’s becoming “cocky or overconfident” he’s paraphrasing his literary counterpart, who asked John Watson in The Adventure Of The Yellow Face Watson, if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.” Source: Metro

31. When Mycroft arrives home and sees the “13th” note on his fridge, it’s hidden underneath a menu for a Reigate Square takeaway restaurant. The Adventure Of The Reigate Squire is an 1893 Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

32. Prompted by the note on his fridge, Mycroft makes a phone call and asks to be put through to “Sherrinford”. First introduced by Holmes scholar William S. Baring-Gould, Sherrinford is a hypothetical older brother to Mycroft and Sherlock. “I’m not given to outbursts of brotherly compassion. You know what happened to the other one” hinted Mycroft in His Last Vow. At this year’s SDCC, Mark Gatiss, Amanda Abbington and Benedict Cumberbatch were photographed holding up signs saying “Thatcher”, “Smith” and “Sherrinford”. So we can expect to have the Sherrinford mystery solved by The Final Problem?

33. The therapist Sherlock sees at the end of the episode is Ella Thompson (played by Tanya Moodie), who formerly appeared as John’s therapist in A Study In Pink and The Reichenbach Fall. Who better to tell him what to do about John than the doctor who treated him for PTSD and grief?

Let us know what else there is to add below! (Particularly if you have filming locations details. Ta.)

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Sherlock series four continues with The Lying Detective on Sunday the 8th of January at 9pm on BBC One.