December 13 2013 Latest news:
Nick Ames, Reporter
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Sherlockology goes behind the scenes
BBC TV’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Baker Street sleuth and Martin Freeman as the loyal Dr Watson, has been one of the major broadcasting success stories of recent years.
Bringing the classic characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into the 21st century it was created by Dr Who team Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat.
Nominated for a huge number of awards, including BAFTAs and Emmys and sold to 180 countries, even the show’s stars and creators were stunned at the level of debate in newsprint and on-line about plotlines and characters – especially a cliff-hanger ending which saw Holmes surviving a roof-top plunge, and then watching a distraught Watson at his graveside.
And it can be revealed the secrets of his survival have already been filmed – as TV producers were worried the location might change its appearance before the next series starts shooting in full.
Sherlockology, run by Jules Coomber, from Whitstable, David Mather, from Faversham and Emma Grigg and Leif Harstad, both from Swanley is a website dedicated to the series which has just been given a Shorty Award – the internet’s equivalent to the Oscars – at a presentation in Times Square, New York City.
It receives over a million hits a month, at any time of the day around 50 people are viewing and has a fan base of more than 100,000 people worldwide.
Coomber explained how the idea came about: “London may be the silent main character in Sherlock, but the idea of creating a website for the series came about during a trip the four members of the Sherlockology team took to Rome in April 2011. While we were there, we noticed tourist trips to filming locations for the film Angels and Demons.
“Sherlock films in some really iconic areas of London so when we arrived home in the UK we had a look to see if there was any information for it online.
“We discovered there was very little on the series. So we set about creating our own online hub of information from locations, to other behind the scenes content such as props and wardrobe, cast and crew information, details of the characters and episodes, and also a means of offering news.
“Sherlockology’s success obviously goes hand in hand with the Sherlock’s popularity. Sherlock isn’t just a TV show - it’s an experience. You feel experiences and not just watch them.
“After you have taken the journey on-screen alongside the amazing characters of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, you can share your love and interest in the show with a massively engaged family of fans online.
“We opened social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube and it just grew from there.”
Humour is an important part of the show which never falls into the trap of taking itself too seriously – despite its clever plots, brilliant action, sharp dialogue and fast paced direction.
The affection for the original works from the writers is obvious with many in-jokes referencing characters, story titles and situations.
From Watson being a blogger, rather than writing for a magazine, to Holmes’ network of homeless informers rather than street urchins the writers show real affection for their Victorian-era source.
However when Moffat was asked if he had a Tardis where, or when, would he go he replied: “Maybe I would take some Sherlock DVDs back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and see what he thinks. He’d probably punch me.”
Coomber said she felt a combination of factors led to the series success.
“It’s what happens when you have the combination of genius writing, a very talented cast and fantastic crew putting it all together. The co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are both huge fans of (the original) Sherlock Holmes and have made Sherlock fresh and exciting for a 21st century audience, while still remaining extremely faithful to the canon – not to mention its really funny in parts, heartbreaking in others, and of course it’s so very, very clever.
“Sherlockology’s success obviously goes hand in hand with the Sherlock’s popularity. It isn’t just a TV show - it’s an experience. After you have taken the journey on-screen alongside the amazing characters of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, you can share your love and interest in the show with a massively engaged family of fans online. Through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Youtube you can provide your own deductions, find out lots more information or just have some Sherlock-related fun.”
Although not officially endorsed by the BBC the website maintains close links with the corporation – including supplying features for the Radio Times.
Its creators have also met up with many connected with the series.
Coomber said: “They all seem very proud of the series and delighted that the fans are so passionate about it too.
“For instance, we attended the London Film Premiere of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy last September as Benedict stars in it, and being invited to such an event was previously outside our usual experience.
“Not working in the television or film industry, it has given us a unique insight as to not only the process of how these things are made, like when we watched a little of Sherlock series two being filmed in London. Although, despite all this, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t still get a little star struck.”
Sherlockology has recently put together a book of new stories sold in aid of the campaign to preserve Conan Doyle’s former home Undershaw in Surrey. It is available from the website and has a cover image of Peter Cushing as Holmes.
“He was from Whitstable and great local figure so it was a pleasure to use his picture,” said Coomber
But the big question is: does Sherlockology know how its hero survived?
“If we do we wouldn’t tell,” said Coomber. “And we don’t like to speculate as although the media was on fire with suggestions Steven and Mark are such great writers I am sure whatever they come up with will be amazingly clever.
“But I do know this – the solution has already been filmed. The cast and crew did it very soon after the ending of the final episode, to ensure there were no continuity errors in how the location looked.”