When asked about his experience making the Sherlock Christmas special, The Abominable Bride, actor Martin Freeman described it as a “holiday.” It obviously wasn’t an actual vacation, as he and fellow actor Benedict Cumberbatch were hard at work recreating their popular modernized versions of Dr. John Watson and the titular detective, respectively. However, being that the special one-off event transports them back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian London, some truth exists in Freeman’s statement.
Such is evidenced by a new behind the scenes featurette released by the BBC, “Taking Sherlock Back to Victorian Times,” in which Cumberbatch, Freeman, showrunner Steven Moffat and executive producer Sue Vertue discuss the major differences between the previous three series and The Abominable Bride. So… what are the major differences?
As Moffat points out, The Abominable Bride is more difficult than Sherlock because of the period setting:
“Now we’re doing one that’s in the authentic setting. It affects everything. Thereafter it’s hugely different. Everything is different. We had to remake our 221B set. We instantly had the problem of period settings and so on. Whereas, you know, before we just turned the camera on and pointed it at London. We can’t do that anymore.”
Freeman and Rupert Graves (Lestrade) add that, with the addition of makeup and wardrobe, the filming process is much “slower” than usual. Yet as much as this all sounds like a bunch of privileged people whining about their first world problems, the featurette instead focuses on these aspects as mere differences.
Plus, as Cumberbatch notes, his modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes isn’t all that different from this Victorian twist. “I’ve tried to implant the Victorian in the modern,” he notes, adding: “He’s very old fashioned. He’s very contained in another era.”
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride premieres Friday, Jan. 1 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.