On March 4th 2014, the Royal Television Society hosted a discussion panel and Q&A, in honour of the biggest drama of the decade, ‘Sherlock: Anatomy of a hit’. The panel, chaired by Tom Sutcliffe, included co-creator Steven Moffat, co-creator and star Mark Gatiss, producer Sue Vertue, star Amanda Abbington, who plays Mary, and BBC Drama Controller Ben Stephenson.
To analyse the success of the BBC1 drama, Tom Sutcliffe took the panel back to the very beginning of Sherlock, to a time when the concept of an ‘updated version of Sherlock’ was nothing more than a conversation between two massive Conan Doyle fans: Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.
The most dedicated Sherlock fans have probably heard these stories before: the brainstorming train journeys to and from Cardiff and their reasoning for choosing Benedict Cumberbatch over a well-known star. This is a decision Stephenson really stood behind, saying during the Q&A “you don’t need a star, this show makes stars.” The chemistry between the cast, is without a doubt, one of the main reasons the show has become such a worldwide phenomenon. Vertue, Moffat and Gatiss acknowledged this, and expressed their admiration for both Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the classic characters. In addition to the Q&A, the audience was treated to a selection of the panellist’s favourite clips from the show. One of the many shown during the discussion was Sherlock’s best man speech at John’s wedding in ‘The Sign of Three’, which aired earlier this year. It epitomizes Sherlock’s transformation of becoming, as Moffat explained, “humanised but never human.”
One of the other points discussed throughout the evening was, of course, the grand finale of series three: Moriarty’s return! It’s a prime example of what makes Sherlock a hit: the writing. Moffat and Gatiss talked the audience through their writing process, including any last minute changes they make to the scripts, something that does not happen often. They revealed Moriarty’s return is something they had discussed before series two aired, which goes to show just how much detail and hard work goes into the writing of Sherlock. ‘It’s about keeping it new,” says Mark. ‘I don’t feel anxious, it’s exciting!’
A video of the panel discussion will be available next week on the RTS website.