Sherlock: The Abominable Bride Promises a 'Proper Gothic Ghost Story'

Aubry D'Arminio
Sherlock Special
Courtesy of © Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films and BBC Wales for BBC One and MASTERPIECE

Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) are getting all tarted up in Victorian tweeds for Sherlock’s first special. When cocreators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss learned that the cast’s schedules allowed only a standalone episode (Season 4 films in 2016), they thought it would be fun to set the story when creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did: at the end of the 19th century.

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“It’s a proper Gothic horror/ghost story/mystery with fog and the pipe and the deerstalker,” says Gatiss, who also plays Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft. “We did press, and several journalists actually asked, ‘How can Sherlock Holmes exist in a world without iPhones?’ and I said ‘Well, there is some precedent, you know.’”

The special, titled The Abominable Bride, is loosely based on Conan Doyle’s 1892 short story The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, about a jewel theft during Christmas. And Watson’s love, Mary (Amanda Abbington), will also be on hand. “A lot of the plot is about how women are treated in Victorian society,” Gatiss says. “There’s a bit where [the men] are about to go off on an adventure and Mary says, ‘Am I just to stay here?’ And Watson says, ‘Not at all dear. We’ll be hungry later.’ Obviously, she’s going to rebel!”

Sherlock, Friday, Jan. 1, 9/8c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)