Sherlock at the BFI - Screening and Q&A Report Sherlockabilia Shop Now Open

Sherlock at the BFI - Screening and Q&A Report * 11 December 2011


We've already written a review of Sherlock - A Scandal in Belgravia, but we were focused more on critical thinking and presentation of the episode, rather than writing a report on the screening itself. While nowhere near the scale of the British Premiere of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that we attended at the same screen at the National Film Theatre, this remained an intimate and hugely fun event. In attendance were numerous cast and crew, including Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Sue Vertue, Beryl Vertue, David Arnold, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Louise Brealey, Una Stubbs and Lara Pulver.

After a short and fun introduction to the screening by Ben Stephenson, controller for Drama Commissioning for BBC One, the episode played. You may have seen Steven Moffat mention on his Twitter feed that this was the most fun press screening he had ever attended - well, we can believe that. From the very start, there was a charged, shared experience to what was going on onscreen, the audience whooping, laughing and applauding throughout. One of us remarked the closest approximation was the personal experience of a midnight screening of one of the Star Wars prequels a decade earlier - a sense of exhuberence and community amongst everyone sat there watching. For our full reaction to A Scandal in Belgravia itself, you are of course best having a look at our review from earlier in the week.


 After the screening had finished, the Q&A portion of the event began. Lasting just over half an hour, it was hosted by Caitlin Moran, with Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver fielding the questions. Due to the nature of the topics discussed, we can't report on everything that was said at present - Spoilers Sweetie - but we did manage to record the audio of the entire Q&A, from which we have culled the following, completely spoiler free audio samples spread throughout the remainder of this article. We'll release the entire uncut recording in due course.


Questioning started with Caitlin asking those on stage for their favourite moment from A Scandal in Belgravia, with everyone replying with something different - such is the wide array of great stuff throughout the episode. After that talk moved onto their reaction to the success of Sherlock's first series, where Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Benedict Cumberbatch all had something insightful and amusing to say:

Sherlock BFI Q&A Sherlock's Success by Sherlockology

Caitlin then deployed a question which must be very familiar to those on stage by now - their opinion of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films, starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law:

Sherlock BFI Q&A - On Warner Brothers by Sherlockology

Talk turned to Martin Freeman, still away running around the woods of New Zealand in his Hobbit feet. Everyone was full of praise for him, noting his commitment to the job while also being a terrific amount of fun - and also at times terribly, terribly filthy, a revelation that led Benedict to dub him 'Martin Free-Hands'. Caitlin recounted the terrible trouble she had interviewing him for an upcoming behind the scenes piece in The Times: 

Sherlock BFI Q&A Problems with Transcribing by Sherlockology

A shout out for other members of the cast then kicked off, with praise for Andrew Scott and Una Stubbs, who we learnt had known Benedict since birth. He talked about their closeness and how that reflected onscreen between Sherlock and Mrs Hudson, which led to him talking about a gentle practical joke he played on Una onset one day:

Sherlock BFI Q&A Una Stubbs & Mrs Hudson by Sherlockology

Time had pressed on, so questioning opened to the audience. First up was one for Benedict - he had made a pact with a young boy named Oliver, who actually deployed possibly the best question of the night:

Sherlock BFI Q&A - Oliver's Question by Sherlockology

Next was a question especially for Mark, noting the expanded performance he gave as Mycroft in A Scandal in Belgravia. Mark remarked on the relationship between Mycroft and Sherlock, and the fact that the two are aware how different they are from others, but still have an approximation of a caring sibling relationship. Thematically, Sherlock is the loose cannon of the two, with Mycroft doing his best to rein him in by bringing him into cases that allow a watchful eye to be cast.


A question was put to Steven about the sparky nature of the character relationships throughout his work, where he remarked on how much more fun and energised the interplay is as a result - relationships in some form of crisis, from the dramatic to the comedic, are simply more interesting to write and indeed watch.

The last question was for Benedict and Lara, asking on the amount of preparation time they receive on the series. Benedict noted "not enough", but on Sherlock they still gain the benefit of a week where they do the atypical read through of the script with the full cast, as well as some rehearsal time.

With that, the Q&A was wrapped up for the next screening in NFT1 - Annie Get Your Gun, which Mark earlier joked was to be performed by the cast onstage - and we were all ushered out. Outside was a huge scrum of people waiting for autographs with the cast and crew, who had taken a break in the Green Room off to the side of the exit. Eventually everyone emerged individually, moving down the line signing autographs and having photos taken, all very gracious and great fun to talk to, with Benedict of course receiving the most attention!

All in all, the atmosphere of the screening of A Scandal in Belgravia was one of the most remarkable we have ever experienced. There is always something wonderful when you put a large group of people with a singular interest into a large room, and this was able demonstration of that.

We'd like to extend thanks to everyone we met on the night and thanked us for the work we put into the site, as well as to Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Sue Vertue, Beryl Vertue, David Arnold, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lara Pulver, Andrew Scott, Una Stubbs and Louise Brealey.