Bauer Xcel

Martin Freeman

Bauer Xcel
Martin Freeman

Things have moved on for John Watson as the smash-hit drama returns. The doctor has now become a parent – so how will that impact upon his sideline solving crime with Sherlock Holmes? Actor Martin Freeman lifts the lid…

We know virtually nothing about this series…
Good, good!

But we do know that John Watson is becoming a father…
We know John and Mary got married – and babies happen, that’s not a rarity. But it’s another further shift down that road between John and Mary. And I guess, without trying to be too mystical, we will see how that changes the dynamic – if it does – of the central relationship. Although we know that central dynamic can’t change too much because the show’s called Sherlock, and the central thing is Sherlock and John. But, if it’s vaguely realistic, you have to care more about your missus and your baby than about anything else. So it’s honouring that, but also not losing the fun and the adventure of that core friendship.

What was your reaction on getting the scripts this time?
Every actor wants to read a script that knocks their socks off, so it’s a very lucky show for that, really. You know that the baseline quality is higher than most other things on television, from a purely written level. I read through these a couple of times, because they are very wordy. And there’s a lot in them that is not always understandable. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I don’t understand them until I’ve seen them broadcast! I don’t think I’m the only thicko in the cast, who sometimes thinks, ‘What?’ But I can truthfully say, if we’re as good as the scripts are this time, I think this could be a pretty special series. Even by this show’s standards.

Tonally, how does this series compare?
There is darkness in it, and I think now we as an audience have come to know the characters a bit more, the stakes have become higher. When bad stuff happens to someone before you know them it’s, ‘Oh, that’s a shame.' But when you really know them, it’s a tragedy. I think that will probably be part of the change in tone. When things don’t go our way in this, the audience fully know what the impact of that is. But also, this show wouldn’t work if there wasn’t lightness and there wasn’t comedy. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (the co-creators) are very good at going, ‘This is a very laughter-light script at the moment, we need to put something else in there’.

We left John and Mary in a happy place – with that in mind, is there only so far you can take them?
Yes, I guess so. I think that would be fair to say. It’s not Ken Loach, but life is full of dark and light.

Toby Jones arrived in episode two. What does he bring to the show?
He’s ever so good, and he’s a lot of fun, Toby. I mean, if it’s possible to be even more creepy than Moriarty, he gives him a good run for his money. He’s pretty odious.

BBC1, Sunday

Graham Kibble-White