Sherlock: Anatomy of a Hit; RTS event
Last night the Royal Television Society held a panel discussion and Q&A in central London. Titled ‘Sherlock: Anatomy of a Hit’ – the event centred on the process of getting the BBC’s Sherlock from its original idea to screen.
The panel comprised: Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss, Amanda Abbington (announced earlier that day) and the BBC’s Controller of Drama, Ben Stephenson. The panel chair was journalist and arts broadcaster, Tom Sutcliffe.
Obviously those who have heard/seen Mark, Steven and Sue do these events before, will know much of the story – and there was a lot of well-trodden ground covered again last night (and which I won’t repeat here).
However, there were some new insights:
Each member of the panel had been asked to choose their favourite scene, and these clips were then played out over the course of the evening. The panel chose (in order):
- Sue Vertue – the scene from A Scandal in Belgravia where Irene Adler works out how the car backfiring led to the rambler being killed, directly before Sherlock falls onto the bed in the field.
- Ben Stephenson – The Great Game - Moriarty reveals his identity to Sherlock at the pool
- Mark Gatiss – one of the final scenes from Scandal where John tells Sherlock that Irene has been placed in a witness protection programme, and Sherlock’s subsequent request to keep her phone
- Steven Moffat – the opening scenes from The Empty Hearse where we get the fans’ take on how Sherlock survived the fall
- Tom Sutcliffe – Sherlock expresses his adoration and love for John as part of his best man speech in The Sign of Three
- Unfortunately as Amanda was a late addition to the panel they hadn’t been able to prepare a clip, but she did say that her favourite scene was from Reichenbach where Mortiarty meets Sherlock at 221B directly after the trial
Ben Stephenson (who was a brilliant panel member and not only held his own but also managed to upstage Steven and Mark) took a bit of light-hearted ribbing for originally scheduling Sherlock over the summer. He reminded the panel that not everyone goes on holiday for the whole of the summer – indeed it was only middle class Londoners who tended to have such a privilege. He also pointed out that there are not suddenly more people available to watch tv in the autumn. Indeed some of the BBC’s most popular crime dramas including Luther and Line Of Duty aired around that time. Ben also confirmed that it was his decision, having seen the 60 minute pilot, to stop production on the six 60 minute eps and commission 3 x 90s instead. He said he could see then that this was going to be ‘very special’ and that they should take the time to do it properly.
Moffat and Gatiss spoke again about their long term planning for the show, confirming that they knew they would be bringing Moriarty back at the end of series 3 before series 2 had even aired. However, there was no discussion as to how this return would manifest.
There was quite a bit of talk about the casting of both Benedict and Martin, with Mark Gatiss saying that Martin brought a certain ‘military bearing’ to the part that none of the other potential Dr Watsons had.
Both Steven and Mark once again reiterated their desire to see Benedict and Martin continue in their roles until they reached an age similar to that of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
During the Q&A, there was a question about how much (if any) improvisation there was by the cast. Steven said that the only person with any remit for improvisation was Mark. However, he did say there were a couple of occasions in series 3 where Benedict had improvised – including introducing John to Tessa as ‘my thing’ (when he’d forgotten the actual scripted line). Moffat also revealed that Martin changes the scripts quite regularly because he will often say ‘oh I’ll just do all that with a look’.
Finally, both Steven and Mark admitted that whilst they try and make Sherlock’s world as accurate and believable as possible, they did take certain liberties with the front door to the London flat. You would never get ‘221B’ on a front door that housed more than one flat - but they couldn’t resist it - purely because they could have their photographs taken by it - and indeed take it to show off at home.
The event was a sell out, of course, with various RTS members commenting that not only was it one of their biggest audiences ever, but also probably the youngest, and one where the energy and enthusiasm in the room was palpable.
The event was filmed and will hopefully be available on the RTS website shortly. Follow @rts_media for updates.