With filming underway on the third season of Sherlock, the BBC has added British TV veteran Amanda Abbington to the cast. The role has yet to be identified, but I’ve confirmed she will “significantly impact” the lives of Martin Freeman‘s John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Sherlock Holmes and could appear in more than one of the three feature-length episodes. (Abbington is also Freeman’s longtime real-life partner, and showrunner Steven Moffat last year said that one of the key words for this season would be “wedding”…) Abbington also stars in ITV’s Jeremy Piven period series Mr. Selfridge which makes its Stateside debut Sunday on PBS. In related news, Sherlock co-creator and co-star Mark Gatiss recently revealed that the title of the first Season 3 episode will be The Empty Hearse, which is believed to be based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure Of The Empty House, one of 13 stories in the Return Of Sherlock Holmes cycle. Holmes was last seen stepping off the side of a building in Season 2 finale, The Reichenbach Fall. Sherlock last aired in the UK in January 2012 and in the U.S. on PBS last May. The new trilogy is expected this winter.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have signed on for a fourth season of the BBC1/PBS Masterpiece drama Sherlock, which started its Season 3 table read yesterday ahead of shooting next week. Cumberbatch, who earned Emmy and …
Sherlock fans rejoice. A third series of the BBC’s hit modern take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s mysteries has been confirmed. The show, which airs on PBS in the U.S., stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes with Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. Although those involved have been cagey up to now about continuing, co-creator Steven Moffat tweeted on Sunday night: “Yes of course there’s going to be a third series — it was commissioned at the same time as the second. Gotcha!” Moffat, who wrote Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures Of Tintin and exec produces Doctor Who, piped up with the news just as Series 2 ended in the U.K. to strong ratings. Production company Hartswood, which makes the show for the BBC, tells me a third series is in the early planning stages for 2013. A big question hovering over the continuation has been whether stars Cumberbatch and Freeman would be able to return. Freeman is playing Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, but he recently said he would like to do more Sherlock. As for hot star Cumberbatch, his schedule has been growing increasingly packed. After turns in War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he’s also in The Hobbit and recently signed on for J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek sequel.
Mad Men, which has won best international show at the Brit TV BAFTA awards for the past two years, is up against Boardwalk Empire, Glee, and Danish crime thriller The Killing. This year’s BAFTA TV awards will take place at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on May 22, fronted by chat show host Graham Norton. BBC1 will televise the show on the night.
Misfits, the sci-fi drama that U.S. broadcasters are sniffing around for a remake, leads the nominations in four categories. The BBC’s Sherlock has three nominations in total, as do Channel 4’s drama Any Human Heart and the BBC’s The Road to Coronation Street, the story of how the UK’s longest-running soap nearly never made it on air. Other names known in Hollywood up for awards include Steve Coogan and Gillian Anderson, and The X Factor is nominated for Entertainment Programme.
The BBC leads the broadcaster noms with 51 nominations in total, followed by Channel 4 (26), ITV (8) and Sky (6), the highest-ever number of nominations for Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV service, including the first-ever for a 3D program:
Philips British Academy TV Awards 2011 Nominations
Jim Broadbent/Any Human Heart/Channel 4
Benedict Cumberbatch/Sherlock/BBC One
Daniel Rigby/Eric and Ernie/BBC Four
Matt Smith/Doctor Who/BBC One
Anna Maxwell Martin/South Riding/BBC One
Vicky McClure/This Is England ’86/Channel 4
Natalie Press/Five Daughters/BBC One
Juliet Stevenson/Accused/BBC One
Brendan Coyle/Downton Abbey/ITV1
Martin Freeman/Sherlock/BBC One
Johnny Harris/This Is England ’86/Channel 4
Gillian Anderson/Any Human Heart/Channel 4
Lynda Baron/The Road to Coronation Street/BBC Four
Jessie Wallace/The Road to Coronation Street/BBC Four
Rob Brydon/The Rob Brydon Show/BBC Two
Stephen Fry/QI/BBC One
Harry Hill/Harry Hill’s TV Burp/ITV1
Graham Norton/The Graham Norton Show/BBC One
BREAKING: While Peter Jackson and Warner Bros are figuring out where they’ll shoot back-to-back installments of The Hobbit, Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh have begun to set his cast for the ambitious projects that will begin shooting in February for release in December 2012 and 2013. The castings were announced by New Line Cinema COO/president Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros COO/president Alan Horn, MGM co-CEO Steve Cooper, and Jackson. As Deadline told you last week, Martin Freeman is set to play Bilbo Baggins, the adventurous Hobbit whose adventures and discovery of the One Ring leads the story up to The Lord of the Rings. Freeman has appeared in films ranging from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Hot Fuzz to Love Actually.
UPDATE: Things must be getting close on The Hobbit, because casting buzz is getting strong in Hollywood. Word is Martin Freeman will soon be set to play Bilbo Baggins, that Jimmy Nesbitt has been offered a role and that Michael Fassbender is being pursued for another as is David Tennant. Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are expected to reprise Gandalf and Gollum.
EARLIER: While it looks like production on The Hobbit is set to start in February on the pair of films directed by Peter Jackson, there are still a few giant issues standing in the way. The films had to go in early 2011 to make the holiday release date. But even though the production schedule looks locked, there’s still the issue of the loud labor fight happening between Jackson and the unions, which have told performers outright not to work on the film because it’s a non-union production. By agreeing to a detente, the films would indeed get underway in New Zealand in early 2011. The delay has also been caused by all the ongoing problems at MGM, and just this week Lionsgate put forth a merger recommendation which Carl Icahn backs. That would obviously affect the pending Spyglass deal – and add more drama to any major production going forward. (Meanwhile, while MGM goes through all of its tumult, Mary Parent is expectedly in the process of leaving the studio, which she has run for almost three years.)