Fans probably shouldn’t hold their breath for Sherlock Season 5 to happen anytime soon. It’s been over two and a half years since the last new episode of the hit BBC series hit the airwaves, and in that time we’ve gotten a few relatively disappointing updates about the possibility of Sherlock Season 5. Back in 2014, creator Steven Moffat revealed that he and co-showrunner Mark Gatiss had plotted out the story beats of Season 4 and Season 5 at the same time, but after Season 4 had been made, everyone involved sounded a bit less enthused about actually producing a fifth season.
So what’s the latest update on Sherlock Season 5? Collider’s own Christina Radish recently spoke with Martin Freeman for his upcoming film Ode to Joy, and during their conversation she asked the actor about the likelihood of more Sherlock. Freeman noted that not only are he, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Moffat and Gatiss super busy, but they don’t want to run the risk of ruining the show’s legacy by producing a subpar season:
“They’re few and far between, the discussions about Sherlock, just because Mark [Gatiss] and Steven [Moffat], the writers, and Benedict [Cumberbatch] and I, are all lucky enough to be not only working on stuff that we like and are interested in, but we know what Sherlock is. You don’t look that gift horse in the mouth ‘cause that sort of stuff doesn’t happen very often, in someone’s life. It’s a huge, huge, worldwide hit, and way beyond anything we could’ve imagined.
Freeman said the way Season 4 ends offered up the opportunity for a significant pause between seasons:
“The way the story went, in the last series, felt like, if not a full stop, then certainly a semi-colon or an ellipses. It felt like a pause. It didn’t feel like something where we could just pop up the next year and go, ‘Hey, folks, we’re back.’ It felt a bit more momentous than that. Not final, necessarily, but the truth is that I don’t know because me and Ben don’t write it. I’m a huge believer in stopping doing something when you want to. If you’ve said what you want to say, get off the stage, and really have the guts to leave it. I don’t know if it’s more they want to say.”
The actor doesn’t sound opposed to Sherlock Season 5, but does note that he’d only want to return if they could make something truly great:
“If it’s something really special, and if it’s something really meaty and interesting, then I think we’d all be open to that. Sherlock always sounds a bit like an event, anyway. We did three episodes [each season]. Albeit they were long episodes. They were 90-minute episodes, but they were quite few and far between, by television standards. Normally, you’re looking at 10 or eight episodes. We did relatively few, even though there was a lot of material. It always felt like an event, so if we do more, it has to be worthy of that. We couldn’t come back with something that was quite good. It would have to feel really, really special. It was that kind of show.”
As Freeman says, all involved are incredibly busy. He’s got a number of projects lined up, Cumberbatch is due to make a Doctor Strange sequel next year, and Moffat and Gatiss are about to launch a brand new Dracula-centric series. That said, Sherlock’s legacy is so enormous that if they did hit upon something truly worthwhile, one imagines they’d all do whatever needed to be done to make it happen. So no, Sherlock Season 5 isn’t a given, but it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility either.
Look for our full interview with Freeman on Collider soon.