SHERLOCK Creator Steven Moffat and Producer Sue Vertue Talk Plans for Seasons 4 and 5, Juggling Schedules with DOCTOR WHO, and More

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Even though Sherlock hasn’t quite finished its Season 3 run on Masterpiece on PBS, fans of the popular series are already anxious to know when it will return with new episodes.  Thanks to the increasing work schedules for show stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who have very busy acting careers, and Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who write the episodes, the gap between seasons doesn’t seem as though it will shorten, anytime soon.

But the good news is that there are plans for Sherlock Season 4 and 5, which show creator Steven Moffat and producer Sue Vertue spoke to Collider about.  During this exclusive interview, they discussed how the waiting period isn’t ideal but hasn’t hurt their viewership, that the scheduling needs to be juggled with Moffat’s other series, Doctor Who, how fans will get more episodes, in the long run, because they make shorter seasons and work around the actors’ availability, that it’s not likely they’ll have another season ready by Christmas (which had been previously rumored), and that they have ideas for Season 4 that will lead to a terrifying Season 5.  Check out what they had to say after the jump.

sherlock-season-3-martin-freeman-benedict-cumberbatchWere you worried about making fans wait for two years, between Season 2 and Season 3, and did you breathe a sigh of relief to learn that the audience was still there?

SUE VERTUE:  Funny enough, two years seems to go very quickly when you’re making it.  I wasn’t that worried about it.  You do think, “Are they still going to be there?”  But the figures were up half a million in the UK, from the year before, so they haven’t gone anywhere, by the looks of it.  It’s not ideal, but it’s the best we could have done.  But, the will is there.  They want to do more.  It’s just trying to get everyone free, at the same time.  That’s just what I’m doing now.  Benedict said, “I’m free in February,” and I said, “But, we haven’t got a script!”  I’m working on it. 

STEVEN MOFFAT:  There was still so much interest in Sherlock that we didn’t have any doubt.  We didn’t expect the audience to be larger.  It’s gotten larger each year.  Contrary to what people think, that doesn’t happen.  With very, very rare exceptions, audiences, even with huge hits, go gently down.  Even for massively successful shows, they decline gently over time.  That’s normal and fair enough.  Sherlock has grown each year, which is spectacular.  So, we didn’t doubt that the audience was still there. 

The excuses the press would make, to try to print the words Sherlock or Benedict Cumberbatch or Martin Freeman were very lame excuses.  Some of the articles about Sherlock are so insane.  I remember a particularly hilarious one, just after we’d figured out the final audience for the first episode was 16 million, there was an article in the paper saying, “Is Sherlock scaring away the casual viewer?,” and we were thinking, “Well, no.  Unless these are 16 million hardcore fans, I don’t think so.”  But, they will just find any reason to mention it. 

So, we knew, in that gap, that we hadn’t gone off the radar.  And Martin and Benedict have been filling their time, to say the least.  They don’t worry when they make James Bond films that you wait two or three years, do they?  They know you’ll be there.  It’s an interesting model for television, and maybe one that comes up again.  I think it might.

steven-moffat-sue-vertueAre you working extra hard to shorten the gap between seasons, or do you just have to deal with scheduling?

MOFFAT:  We deal with scheduling.  I’ve also got to do Doctor Who.  I’ve got no choice about that.  That’s the day job.  Everyone is a little bit busy.  But also, it’s worked to make them wait.  If we made Sherlock the ordinary way, and did a run of 6 or 12, it would have been over by now.  It would have been done because Martin and Benedict would never have been able to find the time, after the first [season].  It would be done.  This model of the TV series will happen again.  Because we all love it so much, this could go on for a very, very long time.  You’ll get to see an awful lot more of it. 

Who says that the only way to make television is to make loads and loads of episodes for five years, until everybody is absolutely sick of it, particularly the people who are making it?  Who says that’s the only way you can do it?  There are other ways to make television.  I’ve heard so many American showrunners talk about the shorter run – which for them is 12 or 13, but that’s quite a long run for us – and that all you’re losing are the filler episodes, and I think that’s true.  I do think that sharpening the appetite and having shorter runs of more shows is a better way.  If you make a star of somebody, you have a chance of keeping them, if you’re not insisting that they work nine months of the year on your production.  It’s going to change.

There was some talk that another season could be on TV by Christmas.  Is that even possible?

VERTUE:  I’ve seen that talk, too.  It’s just a hope.  I can’t see that we’d have a [season] by Christmas.  But, we’ll do what we can.  I’m not being secretive about it.  I just don’t know when we’re going to shoot it. 

steven-moffatMOFFAT:  We have no idea what we’re going to do.  I’m starting the third week of the new [season] of Doctor Who, so I’ve got quite a lot going on.  I doubt it.  But, it’s a matter of when everyone’s available, and when Mark [Gatiss] and I think we’ve got a strong enough script.  We’re quite picky.  We want every episode of Sherlock to be really, really good.  That’s out ambition.  We don’t have to make a million episodes.  We have to make some very, very good ones.  The moment we drop that idea, it will stop being what it is. 

Steven, do you really have ideas for Seasons 4 and 5?

MOFFAT:  Yes, we do.  It’s really [Season] 4 that we’ve got, but it throws forward to a terrifying [Season] 5.  It wasn’t a planned thing.  We had just got out of the rain and because we don’t have the lovely big trailers that Benedict and Martin have, we had to go sit in the accountancy department and we just talked about what we could do.  We just started having what I think are the best set of ideas we’ve ever had.  I think they’re just wild.  And when I say ideas, it’s what stories we’ll tackle, what big twists there will be, what gut punches there will be, and what surprises there will be, and I think it’s really exciting. 

VERTUE:  They haven’t told me yet.  I know something about the next one, but after that, I haven’t a clue what’s going on. 

Sherlock airs on Sunday nights on Masterpiece on PBS.

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  • http://framefilm.no Cliffback

    Can’t wait! Best series ever! But better let them take their time. Quality over quantity!

  • $35605474

    Best series for me and my family. Its event TV. Cumberbatch is just incredible.

  • JK1193

    Benedict and Martin have their big trailers, do they? LOL Proud of them.

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  • jk

    Really wish American television would approach programming like this. Even 12-13 episodes for some of these series seem a bit long. Can’t wait for season 4!

  • poppincherry

    I downloaded the first episode of season 3. Hated it!
    Don’t know what the fuck you all see in this.

    • Cumberbitch

      :O This is a joke right? I mean, how can somebody not love this show……? Have you started from the first season? Because you are obviously missing something here.

    • Jc

      Sorry, you’re mistaken everyone loves this series, especially China. 30,000,000 viewers for season 3 in that country :P

    • Bhammer100

      You should start with season one. Why would you start with the first episode of season 3?

  • Jc

    Noooo! I was really hoping for Season 4 end of 2014 :( But I’m, glad Steven and Mark both say that they need to make really, really good episodes, if they drop that idea, it’ll stop being what it is. Which is exactly right, rather wait for something REALLY good than get something soon and it’d be crap..

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  • Bhammer100

    Just take your time. Make everything right.

  • The Flobbit

    Sherlock is the best show on the air right now, and I will wait as long as it takes to make it perfect.

  • The Flobbit

    Sherlock is the best show on the air right now, and I will wait as long as it takes to make it perfect.

  • Kudo Shinichi_Holmes

    Best series ever. It’s hard but we can wait for Season 4 until everything right.(perfect).
    I really LOVE this series.

  • Jane Upchurch McNeill

    As long as I know there will be more, I’ll wait two years! Because it’s totally worth it.

  • GrimReaper07

    Series 3 was very disappointing, almost bad I’d say. The only episode I liked was the last and it wasn’t that good. On par with the worst episodes of series 1 and 2.

  • Fenella

    I had Series 1 and 2 on Blu-Ray and I have loaned them out to friends who haven’t seen Sherlock. Without exception, they have contacted me to say they are watching, have reached a scary bit, and “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENS NEXT?????” After that, they’re hooked. Some of them are worse than I am :-) Converting the world, one person at a time!

  • szerpa

    Sherlock is one of the best shows ever! But the 3rd series wasn’t as good as 1&2, ep 1 and 2 was nice and funny, but not what I’ve expected. But the third was just like the old ones :) I liked it, it almost broke my heart… I can’t wait for next seasons, though I’m a bit afraid of them – after what Steven said (terrifying season 5? OMG). I hope Mark and Steven won’t be too cruel for SH and JW, I like these guys so much, I don’t want them to suffer…

    Benedict and Martin are really great actors, I’m glad they have more and more work, they deserve it. But I also hope they’ll have time to make Sherlock season 4, 5 and lot more :)

  • Amy

    Just please no more Mary. It’s John and Sherlock against the rest of the world. It can’t be a triangle. And she shot Sherlock in the chest.

    • Seth Fox

      well… if you read the books you’ll know what happens to her in canon. It remains to be seen where they’ll take our story.

  • kete

    A TERRIFYING season 5? Please, God, no. I’m elderly, just think of my heart. How about a few nice Doylish cases without the Bond stuff?

    • Redjester

      Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing Sherlock tackle a legitimate serial killer. And as Arthur Conan Doyle did base a few of his fictional cases on the Jack the Ripper case, it still could potentially be mighty Doylish!

      • kete

        Okay then, I’ll stock up on the heart pills. ;-)

    • Annette

      I like you. :)

      • kete

        Thank you! <3

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  • ohgoodgrief921

    I’m not thrilled with a 2 year delay, but it will be what it needs to be. I’d like them to get the BBC & PBS airdates closer together though. It’s idiotic to expect people to deal with all the lead-up online hype for the BBC premiere, then avoid spoilers for several weeks while dealing with the lead-up online hype again for the PBS premiere.

    • KC

      Well, in the magic land of the interwebs you can actually find a way around that issue and watch the show on its BBC air date. Thats how I got through this season.

    • KC

      Well, in the magic land of the interwebs you can actually find a way around that issue and watch the show on its BBC air date. Thats how I got through this season.

      • ohgoodgrief921

        I did too. I resent it being necessary. I prefer operating inside the rules, rather than breaking them. I read many posts from non-rulebreakers, their frustration was palpable.

      • ohgoodgrief921

        I did too. I resent it being necessary. I prefer operating inside the rules, rather than breaking them. I read many posts from non-rulebreakers, their frustration was palpable.

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  • MH

    lol we’re all going the die if season 4 will come out in 2016 ha ha.. ha.. *cries*

  • MH

    :D:D:D:D:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:((::D:D:D:D:DD:::DD:D:D:D:D(:(:(:(:(:(::):):):):):):)): showing feelings of an almost human nature

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  • Janet P.

    Moffat: “Who says that the only way to make television is to make loads and loads of episodes for five years, until everybody is absolutely sick of it, particularly the people who are making it? Who says that’s the only way you can do it? There are other ways to make television. I’ve heard so many American showrunners talk about the shorter run – which for them is 12 or 13, but that’s quite a long run for us – and that all you’re losing are the filler episodes, and I think that’s true. I do think that sharpening the appetite and having shorter runs of more shows is a better way. If you make a star of somebody, you have a chance of keeping them, if you’re not insisting that they work nine months of the year on your production. It’s going to change.”

    HOUSE MD, we’re looking at you!!
    (Three fantastic years, five shit)

  • cellisis

    please don’t make series 4 & 5 like series 3, which really sucks in plot and story. we don’t want you to write Sherlock so out of character as in the stupid wedding and the last vow, or “i just walk away…”.

    Sherlock is never a cold blood murder in ACD’s books, never and it never is true! maybe you can write the next story to make the last vow after all a dream sequence instead, which never happened? i totally prefer there’s no series 3 at all… maybe it could start over and series 4 becomes a real series 3?

    ok, i am only dreaming, and i will walk away and don’t ever care…

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