Sherlock: Gatiss & Moffat on Series 2
Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat introduce Sherlock Series 2 and offer some hints of what’s to come in these interviews from the BBC.
“We’re very excited about the new series, says Mark Gatiss and the choice of three stories fell quite naturally into place. The obvious follow-up was to cover the three most famous Conan Doyle books and I’m really thrilled with them, I have to say.”
Known to viewers as Mycroft, Sherlock’s steely, mysterious older brother, Mark is also responsible for writing this series’ episode two, The Hounds Of Baskerville, arguably, Conan Doyle’s most famous book, Mark discusses setting about updating such a classic.
“My idea for Baskerville was, as ever, to look for the ‘modern’. So rather than setting it in a spooky old house, I wanted to find the sort of thing that frightens us today. We’re still a very credulous species but we tend to be more afraid of secret goings-on and conspiracy theories. So I thought, what about a scary weapons research place out on Dartmoor? Where secret animal experimentation or something similarly terrible was taking place.”
“The reputation of the story was obviously a challenge”, says Mark, “it’s the most famous and best-loved of them all. No pressure! At its heart, though, it’s a horror story and horror is a big part of the appeal of Sherlock Holmes. I wanted to make it the scariest version there’s ever been. Trying to work that out almost killed me!”
Mark, a lifelong Conan Doyle fan, sheds some light on what he thinks it is that appeals to people about Sherlock
“He’s a mass of contradictions and that makes him fascinating. He’s cold, aloof, arrogant, dangerous, therefore, absolutely magnetically attractive. It works in real life as well, but ultimately people would not remember Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson if Conan Doyle had not been a genius writer, what he created was pure gold. It’s precisely because of those things that we love them.”
With viewing figures of over nine million and having sold in over 180 countries worldwide, it’s fair to say Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, have introduced a whole new audience to Sherlock Holmes.
Mark says: “The most wonderful and moving thing that happened to me throughout the whole series, was getting a letter from a woman whose son was profoundly dyslexic, who had never read a book in his life and he’s now read all of the Conan Doyle books. The entire canon of Sherlock Holmes is fantastic and sales of the old stories have gone up and I couldn’t think of anything more brilliant than for people to be pointed back towards Doyle, who is the well spring of all of this. And still a criminally under-rated genius writer.”
It’s a different feeling, being back for a second series, says Steven: “Last time nobody knew about us and there was some scepticism about ‘modernising’ Sherlock Holmes. And now look at Benedict and Martin, they are so famous in those roles! So far the series has sold in over 180 countries worldwide, so it’s a very big change.”
The big challenge in that case has to be – how do you follow such a success?
“Well this year, knowing we were a huge hit, I suppose we felt let’s do the three big things, The Woman, the Hound and the Fall.”
“Instead of making people wait years and years, we thought – to hell with deferred pleasure, let’s just do it now, more, sooner, faster!”
“That also means we see three different sides to Sherlock. We have Sherlock and love, Sherlock and fear and Sherlock and death. He definitely goes through the mill in this new series.”
Steven who fell in love with Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books as a child says he and co-creator Mark Gatiss are the biggest Sherlock Homes fans.
“We are the biggest Sherlock Holmes geeks in the world. This has become such an enormous international hit, it’s sort of preposterous, it’s like our vanity project, it’s our hobby. And yet everybody has joined in!”
In response to suggestions that there should have been more than three episodes, Steven says:
“We think of them as films because they are ninety minutes long and once we knew we weren’t doing hour long episodes they needed to be on that sort of scale. They have to have the size and weight of a movie.”
As to how he feels the two series compare, Steven explains
“I think the first series was more about John Watson being redeemed from being a massively traumatised war veteran into a bit of a hero. This year it’s more about the forging of the mighty Sherlock Holmes.”
And as to what it is that make the stories so enduring, Steven adds
“We’ve almost forgotten how good the characters of these stories are. They’re not just an old artefact that has become, by accident, venerated. They are in my opinion, without a doubt, the biggest hit in fiction, since their launch over a 100 years ago in the Strand Magazine, it’s now a hit movie series and a hit television series right now and its down to the characters who are perfect, they are brilliant.”