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SHERLOCKED: A conversation with Sue Vertue * 08 July 2015

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Our final transcript from the two day event that was Sherlocked is a little different from all the others, as it features us! We were approached by the organisers of the convention to host a panel and Q&A with Sherlock producer Sue Vertue, at her request, on the second stage on the afternoon of Saturday April 25 2015. This panel was free to all, and occurred at the same time as Rupert Graves and Lars Mikkelsen's appearance on the main stage. Sherlockology team members David Mather and Leif Harstad hosted the session, with the aim of bringing the audience some of the rarer known stories and insights from production from the exclusive point of view of Sue Vertue.

David: Hello Sue. How are you doing?

Sue: I'm very well thank you.

David: Excellent. How are you enjoying Sherlocked thus far? Obvious question.

Sue: I'm actually having a really lovely time, it's actually great to meet everybody face to face rather than Twitter, so I'm enjoying it a lot.

David: Excellent! I had a revelation the other day in that you filmed the pilot for Sherlock in 2009, but it actually came out in July 2010, which means it's four and half years old at the moment, but in July, it'll be five. How much has everything changed while you've been making Sherlock from start to right now?

Sue: Well, when we first made the pilot we did think it was going to be a small BBC Two-hopefully hit but get  a few million [viewers]. So I think if somebody had told us I'd be sitting here now on a Saturday, I think I'd have laughed. Well I'm still laughing, actually.

Leif: Yeah me too.

Sue: It's extraordinary. Meeting people - and they've come from Brazil... I'm not going to start saying countries 'cos I'm going to miss out a country... but some people have travelled quite a long way to be here.

Leif: I asked and was told there are between 5000-6000 people here today, and again tomorrow.

David: Well it's been a great turnout and we've been really excited that this has finally happened at last.... but, let's talk about you. Because you don't ever get all the attention you should I feel. Is that right?

[Audience applauds]

David: The way that it's always imparted is that 'Steven and Mark are on a train journey, and they have this idea' and the person that actually said "YOU should do that, and not sit on it", was you!

[Audience cheers]

Sue: [laughing] But I didn't need to write it! And I am quite shy, by the way. And Producers aren't... I think they should be a bit further back really. We're not great out in public.

David: People often ask us 'what does a produce do? How do I become a producer?' etc etc. Obvious question again... what DOES a Producer do?

Sue: [laughing] Well my mother Beryl Vertue is sitting over there and I learnt an awful lot from her.

[Audience cheers and applauds]

Sue: But we do a lot of nagging. I think the thing about the producer is you're there right from the very beginning to the very end. You've got to sell it. You've got to budget it, you've got to get the money. You've got to make it. Everything's got to be put out. And then we're still approving all the merchandise and the photos and everything else. It's  a bit mother henny really, because you've got to keep them all together when they keep wandering off. And schedules. I do schedules!

David: But they don't stray that much then?

Sue: I don't like them to stray.

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David: The other exciting thing of course that you get to do in advance - we've had Benedict on stage today saying he gets to read the scripts really early - but, do you get to read the scripts first?  

Sue: Yeah. What happens is Steven and Mark will have quite a few meetings, the two of them. They just kind of bounce each other's ideas off. If we're doing a series they'll work out what the series is going to be, definitely what the main stories will be. And when they feel confident with where they think they're going then they'll talk to me about where they think the stories will go, and I'll talk to them in a sort of non-fangirl way and see if it all makes sense. Then, when they go off and write their scripts quite often we get sent chunks of a script. So if Steven's writing it he'll send whatever his chunk is to Mark and I, then we'll have a look at it, and then we'll go back. I think he says he does the chunks because he likes the whole 'oh it's nice to have a cliffhanger', but I think it's because he's normally a bit late. But it's nice actually, it's nice to get scripts bit by bit really.   

Leif: I have a picture in my head of Steven and Mark sitting together, secretly writing things and having giggles, with a pretend bubble pipe in their mouths, almost cosplaying whilst they're writing ideas. Have you experienced that yourself?

Sue: They do, especially in the planning stage. They just have the best time. If you watch them in the distance, their arms are up and jumping up and down, then they get excited about a tiny bit of a story they can use for something. When they actually get down to writing they tend not to write in the same room, unless there's a particular scene that's causing problems and they talk that through. The Special they did write between them but still it was mostly in different houses and then they'd swap over pages.

David: Is there a special room somewhere?

Sue: A special room. [Laughs] No, they'll meet wherever, they try not to meet on the train anymore! People hear things!

David: One of the most striking things about Sherlock, starting off post pilot, was the direction of Paul McGuigan. Now, Paul is very busy himself right now, so how do you go about picking new directors for the series? 

Sue: I watch an awful lot of shows.

David: Doesn't sound too bad!

Sue: No, it's great! Last time I ended up watching tonnes of horror movies, which is weird because I get really, really scared by horror movies. So I had to watch them at like 10 in the morning, so I could just actually watch them for work! There are an awful lot of good directors out there, but we need a great director, so they've got to do something that you don't see in any other show really, a little element of something. Paul I saw... He hadn't even done any TV over here for years, but I watched his Lucky Number Slevin which is what got him the job.

David: Good film.   

Sue: Good film. But they've all been great, the directors. And we basically say to them 'I just want you to go and show off', show us something that you haven't done before, and think big really, and that's what we try and get out of them.

David: Every single episode that comes out there is something rather daring and new about what you see on the screen, particularly with Series Three, with the tracking, Matrixy shots at the wedding and the tilting when Sherlock is shot. Are you every really excited for what could come next from a director, or do you just leave them to it to surprise you?

Sue: No. [Laughs] They all evolve a lot I think. Some of the directors. when they're new, they think 'I've got to go and do something really strange' and sometimes they actually pull themselves back before you get there. You don't want strange, you just want great.

David: You should put that on a t-shirt.

Sue: [Laughs] Yeah exactly! But equally you've got to keep evolving, you can't think 'well that worked, let's do more of that.' You need to keep moving it forward.

David: Ok, we'll go back, because the DVDs and Blu Rays lack a commentary at times I thought the best way to do this was to look at all the episodes retrospectively.

Leif: Prepare your mind palace.

[Audience laughs]

David: Firstly, there's a question in the audience, from a member of our team, and there are lots of questions we've collected from asking on the internet and they will be sprinkled throughout this entire little talk. They have been cleared, they're fine.

Sue: I'm scared! [giggling]

David: It's ok, we haven't anything too horrible! The question we had, there's the famous anecdote that you and Steven sat and watched Atonement, and it was you as I understand it that said 'that really scary man could be Sherlock Holmes.' [Sue is giggling] What in Benedict's performance in that film made you think that he could be Sherlock?

Sue: Well, at the time I hadn't read any Sherlock Holmes books, so I didn't know what the essence of Sherlock should be, and so Steven had explained the importance of what he had to be, he had to be taller than John Watson, he had to be rake thin, he had the nose. And so, when we watched Atonement, which I think was the next day, I kept looking at people. 'Could it be him? Could it be him?' But I looked at him and said 'so it could be HIM?' And also Benedict is the most amazing actor, and he was just sitting there. He was on everyone's lips really, in a way. He's just a brilliant actor. It's just that nobody quite knew who he was in the mainstream. So he was the only person we looked at.

David: So we didn't nearly end up with James McAvoy then, for example?

Sue: We never thought of anybody else but Benedict. [Laughs]

David: So the first series was shot early 2010. There are stories that everyone ended up a bit... ill.     

Sue: Yeah, it was January, it was in Wales, and it was awful weather. So I think by day three we'd been snowed in into a morgue, we lost a light up in the mountains for a week before we could get it back again. Everything was up in the mountain, and we somehow managed to get everything we needed for the next day's shoot down using four wheel drive vehicles. We got everything down, the costumes we needed, the camera we needed, and we were about to shoot in the lab and Martin Freeman slipped on the ice and damaged his wrist. So we didn't shoot the next day anyway. I think Benedict got pneumonia. Paul was ill. The cameraman was ill. We had so many lost days.

David: But you nobly soldiered on. [Sue laughs] So, The Blind Banker is an episode which I really like, but is there this thing that The Blind Banker is a little less well loved than other episodes, do you feel?

Sue: I think it's true. I'll tell you what happened slightly, when we did start the series we didn't really have the 'house style' - I think there is now a house style to it - and we shot them back to front but The Blind Banker was shot in the middle. When we started shooting The Blind Banker we still hadn't really quite worked out what it was, so the text onscreen wasn't really fully evolved until we did A Study in Pink which was shot last, so I love The Blind Banker, but I think it was left a little bit on its own because it was sort of floundering to get the style.

David: So if we move on to The Great Game, how did you go about casting Moriarty? Because that was a bit of a coup to get Andrew Scott.

Sue: Yeah, because also originally he wasn't even going to turn up apart from a passing mention... is that a bird? [Laughs]

David: There are pigeons in the hall everyone. It's fine.

[Audience laughs]

Sue: He was going to be Gay Jim, that was fine, that was in the script, and then we weren't really going to see him again apart from a man in sunglasses at the end. We realised that wasn't the best casting piece. So they wrote a scene which in the end turned out to be the one at the swimming pool just as a casting piece. Just the most amazing people came in, but when Andrew came in, it was probably so unlike what we were thinking Moriarty could be, but it just blew us out of the water and he just killed that scene that we thought 'that's got to go in the show.' So it did.

David: We'll move onto Series Two. You filmed The Hounds of Baskerville first, and that was a LOT of night shoots to start with, because that's when Sherlockology started, well the week before, and a member of the team very nobly stayed up in the nights to keep an eye on what was going on. This was before Setlock existed as well. There was an interesting anecdote as well from the filming of Hounds, which you mention on the commentary, but it's a REALLY good story. You got locked out of a hotel...

Sue: Benedict.

[Audience laughs]

Sue: We were down in Dartmoor, we'd been shooting all night, I think it was about five o'clock in the morning, so it was just getting light, and Mark Gatiss and I drove back to our hotel. It was one of those hotels that said 'last one in, lock the door.' Thing is, Benedict wasn't the last one in. I remember him saying "I couldn't remember if they said 'lock the door, don't lock the door' so I thought to be safe I'll lock the door". So Mark and I are exhausted, there we are at the front door, couldn't get in, walked all round the hotel, phoned the number, nobody answered, and in the end we just thought 'oh, too tired.' So we got to the car, put the seats down, and just basically went to sleep! So I have slept with Mark Gatiss! And Steven Moffat!

[Audience laughs]

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David: Again, Hounds is the middle episode, it's a great episode, it's one of my favourites, and again it gets that little bit of negativity. I don't know why.

Sue: There's no London in it, is there? And it's a story about a... big dog. I love Hounds.

Leif: I think there's always a favouritism when it comes to the first and last episode, so much expectation on it.

Sue: Maybe we should only shoot two episodes in a series? [Laughs]

Leif: Maybe, what do you think?

David: Don't like the sound of that!

Leif: Two 4 hour episodes? [Sue Laughs]

David: Going for Tolkien length. Ok, so the middle episode that you filmed was the last one in Series Two. Now, you filmed The Reichenbach Fall on the streets of London, and specifically you had a lot of 'roof work' shall we say. I remember seeing images that leaked that a certain person fell off a certain roof, but again it was kept quite quiet. Did you realise when you were making the episode, had to you cooked up the thought 'oh this is really going to kill everyone' so to speak, when it airs?

Sue: I don't think we thought it was going to be quite as mad as it was. I mean, I was offered money. We had people phoning up saying 'I'm really ill, can you tell me what happens?' I mean all kinds of things. No, we didn't think it was going to be as crazy as that, on television shows, there are people doing powerpoint presentations about how he survived. I think it was weirder when we went back to shoot the beginning of Series Three because we thought there would be quite a lot of attention, and we wanted to try and keep it secret. Because we had all the false beginnings, I just looked at Twitter and everyone was like 'I haven't got a clue what's going on.' There was one where... you know where he's got the mask on his face? There was some newspaper saying 'it was so dangerous they had to use a model. [laughs] And then we just started mucking about, so we said 'let's just put some red herrings in.' So we put Mycroft sitting next to Moriarty, we put Moriarty in Sherlock's coat...

David: I saw this personally. They walked out of the gate, and Moriarty is wearing Sherlock's Belstaff coat, and Mycroft had a little red hankerchief in his lapel pocket which he sort of takes out and gives to Moriarty and they both shake hands and Moriarty puts his sunglasses on and they both part ways quite grumpily...

Sue: All these huge cameras kept going off and we were sniggering away! [Laughs] Poor Jeremy the director said 'do you think we could get around to actually shooting the script at some point?' We were just having too much fun!

David: The amount of secrecy you had to put in place between Series Two and Three, how did you go about that, if it's ok to ask, apart from not shooting everyone that came into Hartswood Films?

Sue: I think wherever we're filming people find us now, but actually the fans are brilliant. If we say 'can you please not tell anybody?' they don't tell anybody. We have more trouble asking the press not to give it away to be honest with you. But having said that, even they were pretty good. I have to say, I don't think people want spoilers in the end, or if they do want spoilers, they're there to be had, but most people don't. I know that we've got Setlock, the hashtag #Setlock which I'm sure you'll know, where the spoilers go onto, and if you don't want spoilers then don't go onto that. I think people sort of police each other.

David: Yes, they do get quite angry if they see a spoiler out of the tag.

Sue: Yeah. We don't really need to do much about it.

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David: We've sort of skipped ahead a bit, as I haven't asked about A Scandal in Belgravia, because everyone forgets about THAT cliffhanger. I watched it when it aired, and I was screaming. I think I tweeted something very rude to Mark.

[Sue and Audience laugh] 

David: He didn't know who I was as Sherlockology didn't exist at the time! Again, that was a cliffhanger that you had a little bit of a hand in...

[Staying Alive suddenly starts playing from Leif's phone. This wasn't scripted. David is briefly befuddled. The audience cheers]

Sue: I know what that is! Yeah, actually that was easy to keep a secret because they hadn't thought about the beginning of the next series. It would have been a lot cheaper if they HAD thought about the beginning of the next series because we could have shot it at the same time. Steven wanted this phone to ring with this silly thing, and we used Staying Alive as Mum - Beryl - used to work with [Robert] Stigwood and he used to look after The Bee Gees so we got permission for that, and it's just silly isn't it? A silly song. So we went back to the swimming pool, we had to go back, and I phoned them up and said 'look we have to come back and reshoot' and they said 'well, we've had a bit of revamp..' I thought 'Oh God, what have you done?' They said 'well, we've put a wheelchair ramp in.' Well, we could probably cope with that. But they'd also taken all the curtains down and put them all back up again. As you know, they're all blue and red, but they'd put them up one along from where they were... which meant that Arwel had to take every single curtain down and put every single curtain back up again! [Laughs]

David: We didn't really know what was in store for us. We saw it at the BFI at the premiere, and we sat there and thought 'are you joking?' [Sue giggles] It's such a wonderful little twisty turn that it blindsided us, and then of course it's forgotten about and off we go into the main plot. With Irene Adler, how did you go about casting Lara Pulver in that particular role?

Sue: Lara was brilliant. She was in America, and she self taped her casting. We did see quite a lot of people for the role, but she sent a tape over so we gave her some notes and she sent another one in, which was brilliant. Then we said 'can you come over?' so she flew over, and we did the scene with Benedict. We did the 'I am Sherlocked' scene as a casting thing, which is really weird actually. We did that as a casting, she was brilliant and we cast her, and it was one of the scenes that we rehearsed. We don't actually rehearse very much, we have a couple of days talking about the script, if anyone's got worries about bits of the script and things they change it, but they don't normally rehearse scenes. We did actually rehearse that scene, and then we came to shoot it, it was a night shoot, and we couldn't get it right. It should have been the simplest night shoot, and we kept going 'no, it's not working, we need to reblock it'. Maybe they just over-rehearsed it. I love that scene, but it was shot in the end very quickly, because we'd spent most of the night shooting it wrongly. It was really, really weird. Don't over-rehearse.

Leif: I was just going to introduce a social media question that is tied into that. Perhaps not in the first series, but perhaps in the second and third series, is there quite a chance for the actors to adlib, or is everything concrete in the script?

Sue: They don't adlib much. I think what they'll tend to do, and again this comes up in the rehearsals, they'll say 'can I do that, rather than that? Or would I do that?' But by the time we get to shooting it, it's pretty spot on, yeah. I think as well if you start adlibbing then the other people don't know what they're supposed to be doing either when they come in. But also, the writers write so well for them now, they know there are certain things they go for, there's no point putting a line in there because Martin will say 'can I do that with a look?' And he'll do it with a look, so... [Laughs] There are obviously conversations about it, hopefully before we shoot.

David: So with Series Three, it was the first series you actually shot in order. I remember asking Martin Freeman 'do you think there will be any benefit to shooting these episodes in order?' and of course he wasn't sure because he hadn't finished shooting them yet. But do you think the progression that there was in a Series Three as a benefit from a production stand point?

Sue: I don't know if it makes that much difference. It helps to know, obviously, if someone is writing the third script what you need to put into the first script, so I suppose in that way it does make sense to shoot them in the right order, yeah, because you can layer little bits in. I think Peter Anderson [title designer] was speaking earlier about putting in 'liar', and it was interesting because we knew we wanted the 'liar' in the text to come up later when [Mary] was a liar, but every time we kept looking at the text we went 'Oh my God no, it's too vivid, it's too big!' It was so obvious to us that liar was shouting out really.

David: But still couldn't resist?

Sue: Yeah, we had to put it in. But we kept saying 'make it smaller, make it smaller, less often.'

David: So we've sort of already done The Empty Hearse, so let's move onto The Sign of Three. That's another episode that lacks a commentary on the DVD and the Blu Ray, and it's fantastic but completely unlike every other episode of Sherlock in the way that it's constructed, and also because it is just so funny. I couldn't believe it when I sat and watched it for the first time, and I wasn't expecting to be laughing that much, especially with the stag night scene, and I'm obviously not going to mention any deleted material from that, because, well it doesn't exist! [Sue laughs] We've already spoken about the writing process, but with that episode everyone pitched in. How did that episode come together in the writing?

Sue: Steve Thompson wrote the main script to start with, and then they all just took bits of it. It was really complicated, probably more complicated than it looked, to get the case to all join up with the speech, it took some doing. I adore that episode. It was certainly one of the best one's to shoot actually, because we did the wedding for a week really. But also that bit where he's being asked to be best man I think to me is one of the loveliest scenes, with him just going blank. So they just passed it between them really, which worked and sort of also why we did it on the Special, because it seemed to work quite well with Steven and Mark passing bits between them.

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David: The Sign of Three is pretty much a locked location, so how did you go about producing a wedding but not have anyone get married?

Sue: I was thinking, it's really weird because Martin and Amanda now have all these incredible wedding photos [Laughs]. And I have this idea that they'll be like ninety-something and they'll be looking at them saying 'I just don't remember that wedding!'

[Audience laughs]

Sue: 'And who are all those people? I just don't recognise our friends!' Well, we had a wedding venue in Bristol.

David: Did you have to go about booking it as though it was a real wedding?

Sue: We sort of did! We could take our own caterers in if we were lucky. We had a marquee out in the back where all the artists were, we also had a choreographer giving them dancing lessons. I suppose also in that episode, what's quite weird about the wedding is Una and Rupert are just mostly sitting at a table, so the pressure was off them that week, they were just having a whale of a time. I think they were doing Give Us a Clue with Una, they were learning to dance, they did some juggling. It was a great week actually! [Laughs] Poor Benedict just had all those lines!

David: Ok, lastly... His Last Vow. It's an episode which has been taken up as the showpiece for Series Three in some ways, it's won the Emmy etc etc. With the episode we have a really nasty new villain who is such a counterpoint to Moriarty. How did you go about casting Lars Mikkelsen in that role, because in many ways you seemed to engineer the role for him?

Sue: Yeah, we had actually thought it might have been an American, and then Lars' name was mentioned to me and I knew him but of course I didn't know how good his English was, and he was over here doing a night shoot on another film, so I said 'can I go and meet him?' and he said 'yeah, can you come to Woolwich?', so I said fine, and I went and met him and had a cup of tea. So I was sort of skirting round whether I was going to offer him this part, but I just wanted to talk to him. Of course his English is so brilliant, it's quite Cockney. So I said 'if we were thinking of offering this to somebody who wasn't American, would you be interested?' Turned out I don't think he'd even seen Sherlock or knew what it was at that time. So anyway, I asked him to self tape, and then we asked him if he could sort of Scandi it up a bit, because otherwise he's got no accent at all. As soon as we got that we thought 'that's him', he's our villain. So cool, and just a brilliant actor, but was just that kind of dead face and eyes.

Leif: Says a lot without saying anything.

Sue: Yeah exactly. And also we wanted something that was so totally different to Moriarty, and I think that's what we got there. The licking of the face is just...

Leif: It's quite repulsive.

Sue: Yeah, it's not that invasive but it's really weird.

David: Ok, I'm not allowed to ask about Series Four. [shakes head]

Sue: No. [shakes head]

[Audience laughs]

David: I'm not allowed to ask about The Special. [shakes head]

Sue: No. [shakes head] 

Leif: Can we ask about Series Five?

[Sue and the audience laugh]

Sue: Ah... no. [laughs]

David: But if I could sort of tease it a little bit, it's a generally broadcast fact that the Special is set in Victorian England. Is there a greater difficulty for a producer to work in period or in modern Sherlock Holmes, with the creation of everything you have to go about doing?

Sue: Is it harder?

David: Yeah.

Sue: Oh God, it's so HARD! [Laughs] It's a lot more expensive. It is just harder, because you can't just say 'let's get fifty supporting artists and put them in the street,' because they all need to be dressed, and hair needs to be done. I mean it's exciting. Douglas [Mackinnon] the director is interesting about it, he says the thing with quite a lot of period you get supporting artists who all just walk so slowly, they've all got to walk at the same pace, there's no reason for them to walk slower just because it's olden times! So we have fast walking extras in this. [Laughs] It's fun but it's tiring.

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David: Ok, I've run out of the episode stuff so we've got some questions from our social media channels which I'm going to cherry pick from, before we run out and ask questions from the audience. Ok - have you ever considered appearing on screen in a cameo? As I remember being on set and your mum was in the back of a taxi cab, but no one could see it on screen.

Sue: She was, she was very good. I keep trying to get in actually but I just get cut, or I get sacked. Actually I'm really bad, if someone says 'Sue could you walk from there to there?' I WOULD trip over. In Coupling I tried to do a voiceover for something, I was sacked from that. No, I'm useless, I'm really useless.

David: Ok, next - could you pinpoint the single most difficult scene you've had to film in Sherlock?

Sue: I think it was probably Hounds, and I think it was in The Hollow. It was such a nasty little place to film, and we were shooting at night, there were holes everywhere, and we had to get wires across it, we had to try and light it... oh it was nasty! Mark and I were just sitting there going 'this is really grim!' [Laughs]It was cold and rainy and... yeah.

David: And finally from our online questions - it's quite broken up this one, it's either 'episode', 'scene' or 'series'. What is your favourite one of those? Do you have a favourite episode or do you have a favourite scene, or is there a particular series? It is very broad. Let's say 'scene'.

Sue: Scene! Oh God! I love Scandal, I love the one where John comes to Sherlock to talk about Irene Adler, about the fact he thinks she's dead and he doesn't tell him, I love that. I love him asking him to be best man. Oh God, you know, I like a lot of them actually, depends on my day.

David: Shall we say all of them?

Sue: I do, I like all of them! [Laughs]

David: Ok, shall we take it to the floor? If anyone in the audience would like to ask a question, could you please make your way to the chap with the microphone in the middle who is waving quite vigorously and we'll get going for... let's say ten minutes!

Sue: [Laughs] Give or take!

Audience Question 1: Hi! When editing trailers and previews and things, is it quite difficult to get the balance between having lots of really cool stuff to look at and making people want to watch it, and not giving the plot away?

Sue: Yeah it's really hard actually, and I'm the worst one. "Oh no don't use that bit! Oh no we can't use that! Oh that gives that away!" Or you do the American thing where they show every single thing. We try not to do that, we try and make a decision, 'are we going to let that bit out?' For instance with the Special, we're going 'it's going to get out that it's Victorian, so let's just tell people that it's Victorian' and that's it. It's a really hard balance. Thank you.

Audience Question 2: Hi Sue! I'm studying to be a producer, so do you have any advice for young female producers out there to study what you are doing?

Sue: I think, and I learnt this from my mother, always be honest, I think is the main thing, because if you don't tell lies to people then you're not going to get into trouble. And if you don't know something, then ask. I know when I got my first producing job I made sure all the people around me were the best I could find, so I could then say 'is that my job?' So don't worry about getting people who are better at your job than you are, and keep learning.

Audience Question 3: Hello Sue. I wanted to ask, around the time of the pilot for A Study in Pink, what audience did you have in mind, or who did all of you think the audience would be for Sherlock?

Sue: Well, we thought it would be BBC Two, so I think we probably thought it would be a bit older [Laughs] but it's quite female orientated isn't it? [Laughs] Actually, interestingly I think the audience that watches it is about 50/50, male and female, it is fairly young. I don't know, I did a comedy called Gimme Gimme Gimme and I thought that would be for quite a younger audience and older people wouldn't like it, and actually the over 65s loved it, really weird. So who can tell? [Laughs]

Audience Question 4: What's your favourite part about making Sherlock? Is it getting the script for the first time, is it filming it, or is it seeing the finished product at the end?

Sue: Wow. You know, I love my job, I do love all of it. I think possibly the most exciting moment for me is when we sit down for the read through, and we've gathered everybody together and we haven't seen them for a while and everyone introduces themselves, there's Benedict 'and I play Sherlock Holmes'. That is incredibly exciting.

Audience Question 5: Have you ever had any ideas for the writers and you've just had to go 'no! Just no!'

David: Sounds like a budget question!

Sue: What, have I ever had ideas for them or they had ideas?

Audience Question 5: If they had ideas for you and you just had to go 'no that's not happening'.

Sue: Sometimes... it's always a budgetary problem, but interestingly Steven said to me, I remember when he was writing Scandal, he said to me 'Sue, if I put in here... a plane... do you think that would be alright?' So I said 'well leave it with me and we'll come back to that.' So he did rather sweetly ask me before he wrote it in, and weirdly we could get a plane. It depends how important things are but they're actually producers themselves so they know the importance of money and they know it's not endless, really. But it's mostly just budgetary.      

Audience Question 6: Hi Sue. I also very much want to be a producer, and I just wondered what the hardest part of your job is?

Sue: Saying no. [Laughs] I suppose it's when you are shooting and you think 'I don't know how we are going to get all this shot in the time we have.' There's never enough time in a schedule, and there's always at one point a little bit of a panic thinking we're not going to get it all. Touch wood so far we don't tend to do that. Because if you lose the actors, you lose the actors, they're going on to other jobs, so you have to get everything in. I think on the last day of Series Three we had four camera crews all round the studios shooting different bits, that's how we did it.

Audience Question 7: You said that you get a script and you have to give an almost fangirl feedback. As a fangirl, do you want Moriarty to be dead or alive?

[Audience laughs]

David: Sounds like Series Four!

Sue: As a producer, I can't tell you!

[Audience laughs]

Audience Question 7: I asked as a fangirl.

Sue: Oh, I'm not a fangirl then! Sorry about that!

Audience Question 7: That's a shame! [Laughs]

Sue: Try another one!

Audience Question 7: I came to a previous talk and you said about the little snippets, the little hints you put in, like where Sherlock is thinking about Mary where 'liar' comes up. Has there been anything like that but about Moriarty?

David: Sounds like Series Four!

[Audience laughs]

Sue: I don't think so. Or has there? [Laughs]

[Audience laughs]

Audience Question 8: Hi Sue. I have two questions. Now that the show has got such a widespread fanbase and following all around the world, has that affected the production process at all, is there more that you have to think about? And secondly, as a producer, what advice would you give to young actors?

Sue: I don't think it's made the production process harder, apart from the fact that all the actors are busier so we need to schedule that. I suppose if we were going to do a big reveal now we would think carefully about doing that in public, so if there's something we want to try and keep really, really secret we probably wouldn't shoot that outside I think. Young actors... First of all, I would say 'always audition.' I find now when people go 'oh you won't audition, it's an offer only deal', there's no point in doing that as we want to see what they're doing. Always do that. Never be too proud to do that. And just keep acting, take any role, there's no such thing as a tiny role. Interestingly Loo Brealey, Molly, wasn't ever going to be an ongoing role, she was just going to be in that first episode, but she was so brilliant she's now her own person.

David: Just been told we only have time for two more I'm afraid... which there are! Excellent!

Sue: Perfect! [Laughs]

Audience Question 9: Hi, I just wanted to ask who is your favourite character from the series and why?

Sue: Oh they're all my babies! I can't pick one above the other. Urm... no, I can't! I love them all for different reasons.

Leif: Who is yours?

Audience Question 9: Mine? Probably Moriarty I think... yeah, definitely.

Sue: You like the bad boys!

[Audience Laughs]

[We and Sue sadly couldn't properly hear the final question asked by the final person in the queue from the stage, and we offered our apologies]

David: Thank you very much everyone for coming, we could actually stay here all day, but I think we should give a very big round of applause to Sue Vertue - the person that made sure that Sherlock got made by bullying Mark and Steven into doing it! Thank you!       

Sherlocked 086_web   


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