Holmes Is Where the Heart Is; after the Acclaim That Greeted Their Debut as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson Last Year, Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman Carry a Huge Burden of Expectation as a New Series Begins. Kate Whiting Reports

Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Holmes Is Where the Heart Is; after the Acclaim That Greeted Their Debut as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson Last Year, Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman Carry a Huge Burden of Expectation as a New Series Begins. Kate Whiting Reports


Byline: Kate Whiting

* STENCH of sour milk pervades the flat, in which a neon yellow smiley face is daubed over old-fashioned flock wallpaper.

On the mantelpiece, a pile of letters is stabbed through with a penknife, and near the door there's an African hunting spear in the umbrella stand. Welcome to 221b Baker Street, the home to Britain's most famous detective, one Sherlock Holmes. But we're not in London.

We're in an enormous studio in Cardiff. And Sherlock, alias Benedict Cumberbatch, 35, is holding court alongside his sidekick Dr Watson, also known as Martin Freeman, 40. They're part-way through filming three new 90-minute episodes of the 21st century update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective stories. They're still reeling from the success of the first series which, thanks to modern technology, was pretty much instantaneous. When the first episode, A Study In Pink, aired last July, Cumberbatch remembers sitting with creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, plus Moffat's wife and producer Sue Vertue, in the Moffats' garden. "All the twittery stuff started to happen," he says. "We were trending, and by the end of it I thought there would be people abseiling into the garden just to have a peek at us because this thing had exploded that night. "It was thrilling." The following day, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt name-checked Sherlock in a discussion at the House of Commons about the licence fee, saying Freeman and Cumberbatch "did a brilliant job".

The series went on to be nominated for seven TV Baftas, winning three, including best series and best supporting actor for Freeman.

It's also gone global, winning Emmy nominations and two very high-profile fans in directors Steven Spielberg, who cast Cumberbatch in his film version of War Horse, and Peter Jackson, who shifted filming on The Hobbit in New Zealand so that Freeman could make more Sherlock.

"He said, 'We want this to work', so he put the film in chunks so that I could do this," says Freeman, his cheeky smile giving way to a look of astonishment.

Despite the high level of expectation that will greet the new adaptations kicking off today, the team are showing no fear.

"Why wait?" says Moffat, confidently.

"It doesn't get better than these stories."

A Scandal In Belgravia, based on Conan Doyle's first short story A Scandal In Bohemia, opens where fans left their heroic duo - at a swimming pool, with Watson wrapped in a belt of explosives and Moriarty's (Andrew Scott) men training guns on them.

After escaping the deadly pickle, the pair are then engaged by Sherlock's brother Mycroft (Gatiss) to procure some rather compromising images from high-class escort Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) - a lady who fans of the original stories will know Sherlock finds hard to resist.

"The more I think about it, the more I start going, 'Oh s***, yes we are doing three really huge stories'," says Cumberbatch.

"But while I'm responsible for Holmes, it's a huge collaborative effort. It as much levels the responsibility at the script writers, the director and everybody else acting in it. …

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Holmes Is Where the Heart Is; after the Acclaim That Greeted Their Debut as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson Last Year, Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman Carry a Huge Burden of Expectation as a New Series Begins. Kate Whiting Reports
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