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The Sherlockology review of 2013 * 31 December 2013


Well, that was a quiet one, wasn't it?

Oh wait. Who are we kidding? 2013 was easily the busiest year thus far for BBC Sherlock and Sherlockology itself, what with filming on the third series finally occurring and the inexorable wait for the return of Holmes on New Year's Day 2014.

The year itself did start relatively quietly however. Delayed from starting in January, the countdown to the start of principal photography was unofficially begun by Production Designer Arwel Wyn Jones on his Twitter account on January 21st, when he started releasing daily photos of the reconstruction of 221B at Upper Boat Studios in Wales. From empty sound stage to fully furnished flat, reconstruction lasted well into mid February.

Arwel -montage

By the time March arrived though news was flying thick and fast, with directors Colm McCarthy and Jeremy Lovering confirmed to be joining the series. On March 8th, Sherlockology broke the exclusive news that principal photography would commence ten days later on March 18th, having had it confirmed by Sue Vertue. With that long awaited date, we also brought the confirmation that filming would be subject to a break to allow Martin Freeman to return to New Zealand for additional work on The Hobbit trilogy.

When production finally did begin on March 18th, it brought with it the reveal of the title of the first episode in the series - The Empty Hearse.  For the first time, all episodes in a series of Sherlock were to be shot in the order they would be broadcast. As well as Cardiff, the home of the series, principal photography on the episode took the production team to Cheltenham for the first time, as well as a return to Bristol. Throughout, crowds were drawn to watch whatever the weather, and often filming made the regional television news broadcasts. The #Setlock hashtag appeared on social media, and pictures and news from the shoot began to filter onto the internet, along with a few spoilers. It was clear that filming on Sherlock was drawing far more attention than it had previously, and so on April 9th Sue Vertue sent Sherlockology a statement due to concerns about public safety when production reached London. The short statement ended up being picked up by the media around the world.


The day before that though, Sherlockology won the Shorty Award for the Best Fansite in Social Media for the second year in a row, in an unusual tie with fansite @1Dneews. Half the team headed to New York to collect the award, while the others stayed behind as, as Sue had said, Sherlock was about to arrive in London, and we'd had an unexpected invitation to the first press event for Series Three on April 10th . Filming began that same day in the afternoon at North Gower Street, and the street was rammed full of onlookers, making everything seem like a rock concert. A few days later, after returning to St Bart's Hospital to film the long awaited solution to how Sherlock had survived the fall, filming on the first episode in the new series wrapped.

Days later though, everything started up again with filming on The Sign of Three, which rattled along until May 23rd. In the midst of that, Benedict Cumberbatch hit the big screen in Star Trek Into Darkness, starring as the villain of the piece. A long game had been played by the film's production team as to the actual identity of the character, so it was likely a relief for all concerned when we could finally state that Cumberbatch was playing Khan Noonien Singh, the single most iconic individual opponent the original crew of the USS Enterprise faced. Thankfully, the fact that Benedict actually looks nothing like original Khan actor Ricardo Montalban is being examined in a Star Trek comic-book miniseries. Star Trek Into Darkness was a hit, though it was not one of the very highest box office grossing movies of 2013.  


June saw a bit of a lull as Sherlock production went on its planned hiatus to allow Martin Freeman to don his large hairy feet again. At the end of the month, Nick Hurran was finally officially confirmed as the director of the third and final episode in the third series, fresh off working on the eagerly anticipated 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who.

July however saw everything kick back into high gear. Obviously well aware of the anticipation for the third series, Amazon launched pre-orders for the DVD and Blu Ray early in the month, without any idea of a release date - and instant pre-orders for the release quickly pushed it to the top ten entertainment products chart! On July 18th, Sherlock became the first PBS series to host a panel at the world famous San Diego Comic Con, with a crowd of over 4000 filling the huge Ballroom 20 in the convention center. The lucky attendees saw Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Sue Vertue cryptically discuss the upcoming series, alongside a video greeting from Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and the world's first debut of footage from The Sign of Three. One of the most critical pieces of news to emerge from the panel was that both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are optioned on a possible fourth series, pending a recommission by the BBC and Masterpiece.  

Sdcc 2013

The plan was also to reveal the title of the final episode of series three at the panel, but that occurred the next day when the BBC, as part of a clever cross media game (that ended up being subject to unfortunate sports-related delay for two weeks), finally announced that Sherlock Series Three, Episode Three would be titled 'His Last Vow.' And once again, a fandom instantly began to dread.  

With Martin Freeman returned from New Zealand (and in cinemas, thanks to sci-fi comedy The World's End), filming on the final episode got underway on July 29th, along with the reveal of the main villain for the third series - Charles Augustus Magnussen (nee Milverton in the original stories), played by Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen. Shooting ran throughout the entirety of August and concluded on September 1st. But in the midst of that, the first trailer for Sherlock Series Three debuted on the BBC at last. We'd been alerted to the impending arrival of the trailer a week beforehand, and so with the blessing of Sherlock producer Sue Vertue devised a simple and mysterious countdown campaign to run across our social media sites. Using the hashtag #SherlockR3VEALED, it ended up generating over 15 million unique views alone. And when the trailer actually arrived, the amount of incoming traffic to Sherlockology actually crashed our website!


On August 20th, we found ourselves making a very special visit to a very special place, somewhere we've still not spoken much about as yet. Guided by Arwel Jones, Sherlockology toured the set of 221B and the studio spaces of Upper Boat, seeing many strange and wonderful things and recognisable props for series past, making sure to test out the seating in that familiar flat that unexpectedly felt just like home. We'll finally be able to tell all about our visit very soon.

In September, the evident passion from Sherlock fans began to cross over into other, more unexpected areas, when a Lego concept set of 221B became the fastest ever idea to reach the consideration target of 10,000 votes on the Lego Cuusoo website. The set remains pending consideration for production as a real product.


With filming completed, much of the rest of 2013 became concerned with just when Sherlock would debut on Television. As is tradition, the USA ended up announcing their airdates first at the end of October  - to the initial confusion and consternation of many it has to be said. October also saw the release of The Fifth Estate, with Benedict Cumberbatch brilliantly portraying the controversial counter-culturist Julian Assange. Unfortunately, the film was not a success, going on to become the largest cinematic flop of 2013. Far better news rolled in in November though, as the countdown to the airing of Sherlock Series Three gathered even greater pace. A press screening of S3E1: The Empty Hearse in December was announced at the start of the month, with limited seating made available to the public, and then the UK premiere airdate was finally revealed with a genius publicity stunt on the last Friday in November. A hearse travelled the streets of London, flowers inside proclaiming that #SherlockLives on January 1 2014. News also unexpectedly arrived that Sherlock would get the mini-sode treatment in time for Christmas.

Sherlock Lives

And so December arrived, and the wait was nearly at an end. A release date was finally put to those long held Amazon DVD and Blu Ray pre-orders, Martin Freeman again hit the big screen in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular, astonishing dragon - and Sherlock S3E1: The Empty Hearse made its debut at the BFI in London for the world press and lucky members of the public. After that long wait of two years, the solution to Sherlock's survival was out, and then the next two weeks leading up to January 1 2014 became a process of silence for all who knew, including us!

Sherlock _series _3_0

2013 then was a year of great highs, and as ever we remain hugely thankful to all our followers across our social media accounts (there are over a million of you now! Incredible!), and the cast and crew of Sherlock who, if you are ever lucky enough to interact with them, are among the nicest people you will encounter on this Earth. Sherlockology has exciting plans for 2014, not least the arrival of new updates to our Props, Wardrobe and Locations sections in the early part of the year, and we're looking forward to finally being able to go into greater detail of our experiences during the production of Sherlock Series Three that we've had to keep rather quiet about. 

But mostly, we're looking forward to seeing what you, the fans, think come the television debut of the third series of Sherlock in mere hours. Of course though, then there will be a wait, and the whole mad and wonderful process of being a fan of this fantastic show will begin again...


From Team Sherlockology: Leif, Emma, Jules and David

Happy New Year!