Sherlock Anniversary Q&A: Steven Moffat ‘Sherlock Does Love Molly’

To celebrate Sherlock’s 10th anniversary, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Sue Vertue answered 10 fan questions, including the problem with The Sign of Three script, Molly’s ‘I love you’ scene and who’d they’d dream-cast as a female Sherlock

Photo: BBC Pictures

Saturday the 25th of July 2020 marked a decade since the world was first introduced to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson in BBC One’s Sherlock. To mark the anniversary, creators Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue took part in a Q&A session answering fan questions read out by Moffat and Vertue’s son (and young Sherlock) Louis Moffat.

You can see the full 25-minute Q&A session courtesy of Sherlockology. It’s a warm, nostalgic chat, peppered by jokes, filming memories and affectionate ribbing of their host.

Questions ranged from the creators’ favourite Holmes and Watson other than their own (as ever, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, though several incarnations were fondly name-checked), most challenging scenes to film (the gushing cold Reichenbach Falls in ‘The Abominable Bride’), what Irene Adler is doing now (‘something naughty’), and how Sherlock Holmes would react to lockdown (‘Sherlock would quarantine himself for three months without knowing that he had!’ says Moffat. ‘He’d make Mrs Hudson wear a mask as she delivers the food to him in case she’s poisonous and he’d probably spray her down’).

Are there any remaining Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories that Gatiss and Moffat have an ambition to adapt? Moffat said they’ll ‘probably remain quiet on the ones [they’re] really interested in’ and brought up the difficulty of adapting a far-fetched but attractive story like ‘The Speckled Band’ (no spoilers here, to your copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes go).

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Asked which Sherlock script changed most from its first draft to the finished product, the creators remembered the trouble they had with series three’s ‘The Sign of Three’ (John and Mary’s wedding episode). ‘It was extremely long and yet it just wasn’t long enough, we just kept adding incidents,’ remembered Gatiss. ‘When you have mini cases, which are very exciting and fun to do, it’s like doing the joke, just a tiny version, but then you forget that they don’t actually take up that much screen time!’ he laughed.

‘However long we made it,’ said Moffat, ‘because that script was about 140 pages long, which is insanely long, it still wasn’t 90 minutes, whatever we did to it.’

To the question of who the trio would dream-cast for Sherlock, Watson and Moriarty as women, Moffat picked Doctor Who’s Michelle Gomez for Sherlock, while Mark Gatiss opted for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Sue Vertue suggested Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer. The really tricky thing, said Moffat, was casting a female Watson because he found it ‘hard to imagine any woman putting up with Sherlock Holmes!’

To a question about how the ‘I love you’ scene in the series four finale ‘The Final Problem’ would have affected Sherlock and Molly’s relationship (in which Sherlock is forced to make Molly Hooper utter those words, ostensibly to save her life as part of Eurus’ twisted game), Moffat said that he’d given an irritable answer to this question before (presumably here). Here’s what he says now:

‘The thing that changes in that scene – and I really love that scene – is that Sherlock’s hugely emotional reaction to it afterwards is really a reaction to the fact he realises that’s the culmination of him having been an absolute arsehole to Molly for years and just realising sort of in that moment, that was a terrible way to behave. I sort of think he wouldn’t ever be like that again. He does love her, but not in the way she would like to be loved, but he does love her. He would always look after her, he would always protect her if he had to. Hell would fall on anyone who attacked Molly.’

Take a behind-the-scenes anniversary set tour with Sherlock set designer Arwel W Jones here.