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The Sherlockology Review of 2015 * 31 December 2015

Yearly -review -header -2015 

Ever had a year that felt like it started with a rush and then left you waiting with anticipation?

Oh wait. You're a Sherlock fan. That's EVERY year isn't it? Pretty much?

January 2015 began with filming on Sherlock: The Abominable Bride - or, as we simply knew it at the time,' The Sherlock Special' (alternatively #ShSpesh, should you have been hanging around on Twitter). Word had filtered through that there would be a Victorian flavour to the episode, but when early assumptions of characters in fancy dress gave way to the realisation that this was indeed a full blown period adventure, we once again began to wonder just what Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss were up to. Instead of the usual haunts of Cardiff, filming took place in the historic streets of Bath and Bristol - with interior sets being built in the latter's Bottle Yard Studios complex. Meanwhile, North Gower Street in London saw itself completely transported back to 1895 to create a Victorian Baker Street.

Before filming concluded, we were invited to the Bottle Yard Studios in early February to interview the cast and crew, and tour the sets - look for a full report on this in a couple of days, due to our desire to report on all we saw and the resulting potential for spoilers we've held off publishing it until after the episode aired. We can however share that we came away amazed at the attention to detail that has been lavished on this intriguing incarnation of the show, while still a little perplexed... as was the intent of the production team no doubt!

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In April, 14 months after it was first announced, the first official BBC Sherlock convention finally took place. Filling a hall at the ExCel centre in London's Docklands, attendees from the show's cast and crew delighted visitors across the final Saturday and Sunday of the month, with the recently wed Benedict Cumberbatch headlining the event. Some big revelations slipped out during the convention, not least Steven Moffat revealing that he had written a scene for fun of what happened after Sherlock rescued Irene Adler from certain death at the conclusion of A Scandal in Belgravia. Perhaps the most raucous panel of the weekend belonged to Mark Gatiss and Andrew Scott, reducing the assembled hall to hysterics with a hilarious hour of comedy, information, and a dash of innuendo. We found ourselves part of proceedings too, hosting an hour long Q&A with producer Sue Vertue where we dug into some of the more rarely heard stories from making the series, as well as Sue's life and work as a producer. With actual props and sets on hand throughout the venue and chances to meet the cast and crew, Sherlocked was an unqualified success as a first attempt at an official convention for the series, with the promise of bigger and even better things to come in the future at other locations around the world. 

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After the excitement of the early months of the year, May and June were relatively quiet in comparison, with Martin Freeman all but disappearing from public sight as he quietly worked on Marvel's 'Captain America: Civil War', and 'Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot', both due for cinema release in 2016. Away from actual acting and production work, both Benedict Cumberbatch and Steven Moffat were honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours list on June 12, with Cumberbatch made a CBE and Moffat an OBE. This was however all a lull in anticipation of the numerous theatrical events other cast members would be performing in in the second half of the year. In July, Louise Brealey starred in a beautiful West End revival of Nick Payne's thought provoking play 'Constellations'. Funny and moving in equal measure, the play allowed Louise to deliver a show-stopping double hander alongside Joe Armstrong. July also saw Sherlock make a return visit to San Diego Comic Con, for a packed panel in Ballroom 20. Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue and Rupert Graves were on hand to field audience questions and also debut the first moving footage from the Special episode, which was speedily and pleasingly revealed online for the rest of the world very soon afterwards.

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August brought one of the most hyped theatrical events of recent times. Having sold out in minutes a year before, Benedict Cumberbatch's performance in 'Hamlet' thus became one of the most scrutinised productions of Shakespeare's work, with the press reacting in varying degrees of praise and complaint. Regardless, this was the Bard's work designed on a blockbuster scale for modern audiences, literally appealing to the masses, with Benedict's performance as the doomed Danish prince striking various notes of room shaking power and some unexpected comedy.  Playing at the same time at the National Theatre was 'Three Days in the Country', with Mark Gatiss - a play which we annoyingly never managed to attend, due to the horror of 'life commitments'. The same month also saw the debut of another long awaited and suggested event - a Sherlock Holmes Prom. As part of the annual concert season at London's iconic Royal Albert Hall, the event saw music from numerous incarnations of the Great Detective's screen adventures, as well as music referenced in the canon stories, all wrapped up by readings from co-host Mark Gatiss. And of course, the whole event concluded with an excellent rendition of a suite of music from the modern BBC series, with composers David Arnold and Michael Price taking to the stage at the end.

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September was notable for the US debut of 'Black Mass', which saw Benedict Cumberbatch star alongside Johnny Depp in a true life story of the notorious criminal Whitey Bulger. The film made its UK debut a couple of months later, when we were finally able to review it. Staying with the cinema, October saw the premiere of the much anticipated 24th James Bond film 'Spectre', which starred Andrew Scott as the new, ultimately villainous head of MI5. While we felt the film was slightly overlong and not as thrilling as it could have been, it was nonetheless a delight to see Andrew reaching a worldwide audience in a film of this size. 'Hamlet' also concluded its run at the Barbican on October 31st, with Benedict Cumberbatch nearly instantly jetting off to Nepal to begin filming his leading role in Marvel's 'Doctor Strange'.

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The end of October was when the real push to promote the new special episode of Sherlock began, starting a build up that lead all the way through to the end of December. At a special panel at the MCM London Comic Con, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Sue Vertue and Amanda Abbington all returned to the halls of the ExCel Centre to reveal a glut of information - not least the long awaited title for the episode, which we instantly became very good at spelling and pronouncing. It was also announced that the newly christened 'The Abominable Bride' would finally premiere day and date in the UK and USA on January 1 2016 (after the previous months long gap between the countries had long bothered Sue Vertue) and would also play in selected cinemas in countries around the world from the same date.

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December saw Andrew Scott return to the stage in incredible form in 'The Dazzle', still playing in intimate surroundings in central London (get a ticket if you can!), as well as take a prominent role in 'Victor Frankenstein' (directed by Sherlock's Paul McGuigan and also featuring Louise Brealey and Mark Gatiss in small roles), but promotion and anticipation for the Special ultimately lead us to the end of the year, all the way from when filming began on it in January. We're once again just hours away from seeing what the cast and crew have been up to, and once again just hours away from the start of yet another long wait! But never fear, Series 4 is set to begin filming in April 2016, with every possibility we'll be sitting here again in a year's time, mere hours away from more new Sherlock! (and yes, more glorious anticipation shortly afterwards...)

From all of us at Sherlockology - David, Emma, Jules and Leif - we hope you have a very Happy New Year!   

 

 
 
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