The game is on — again!, BBC One tweeted this afternoon. That was following clues it left Monday night alerting Sherlock fans that a surprise was in store for today. In the first missive, the channel — which had changed its handle to “Sherlock – #221back” for the occasion — posted a GIF of Andrew Scott as Moriarty from the last episode of Season 3, and the question, “Did you miss me?” An hour later, BBC One wrote, “It’s all gone dark… Something’s coming… Or someone. Details at 2.21pm tomorrow.” And now we’ve solved the mystery. The BBC has confirmed the sleuthing drama will return for a special, followed by a series of three new episodes. Shooting on the special will start in January 2015, with the series shooting later next year. “We’re ready to unleash the most shocking and surprising series of #Sherlock yet. The only thing is to expect is the unexpected…,” said BBC One today. A fourth season has unofficially been afoot for some time, but dates have never been specified — a lot of juggling is necessary given the big screen demands on stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Today’s confirmation follows reports on Sunday that the high-functioning sociopath and sidekick/best pal Dr John Watson would be back for a special in 2015. Freeman told The Telegraph a period of filming looked “pretty likely” in early 2015 and that he thought it “might be for next Christmas.” Either way, fans have had to wait long periods before to catch up with the characters, and their fervor has not abated. When Season 3 kicked off on BBC One and PBS in January this year after a two year hiatus, it was the series’ most-watched episode ever, on both sides of the Atlantic.
In late March, BBC Director General Tony Hall announced the broadcaster’s greatest commitment to the arts in a generation. Part of the plans outlined at the time called for a further three filmed adaptations of Shakespeare’s History plays for BBC Two, including a new version of Richard III. Today, BBC Two confirmed on its Twitter feed that Benedict Cumberbatch will trade his kingdom for a horse as the titular king. The telefilm will be executive produced by Sam Mendes, produced by Downton Abbey‘s Rupert Ryle Hodges, written by Ben Power, and directed by former artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre Dominic Cooke in his screen directing debut. Cumberbatch, a Royal Court alum, said, “I can’t wait to work with Dominic Cooke again to bring this complex, funny and dangerous character to life.” The news comes as Cumberbatch is also gearing up for another Shakespearian lead: He’s playing Hamlet on stage in summer 2015 on the West End. Meanwhile, his Sherlock co-star, Martin Freeman, is also set to play Richard III, onstage at London’s Trafalgar Studios from July 1 to September 27 this year.
Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman is set as the co-lead opposite Billy Bob Thornton in FX’s first limited series Fargo, executive produced by Joel and Ethan Coen. A 10-episode limited series inspired by the Coens’ 1996 film, FX’s Fargo will feature an all-new true crime story, with the series following a new case and new characters, all entrenched in the trademark humor, murder and “Minnesota nice” of the film. It centers on Lester Nygaard (Freeman), a small town insurance salesman henpecked by his wife, whose life is changed when a mysterious stranger, Lorne Malvo (Thornton), comes to town. The Lester role draws parallels to the character played by William H. Macy in the movie. Fargo was written by Noah Hawley, with Adam Bernstein set to direct the opening hour. FX Prods. and MGM Television are producing, with Hawley, Warren Littlefield, Joel & Ethan Coen, and Geyer Kosinski exec producing.
Stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were never scheduled to appear in person at Sherlock’s debut Comic-Con panel but they showed up anyway – via video. Both actors filmed short shout-outs to the very loud jam packed Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center. “Make sure you really scream and shout and ask them lots of belligerent questions,” quipped Freeman to the fans about the in-person panel of co-creators/EPs Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and producer Sue Vertue. Working on a Peter Jackson’s still filming sequel, Freeman was in full Hobbit makeup and shades in his clip. The just Emmy-nominated Cumberbatch on the other hand was more casually dressed in his pre-taped appearance. After joking that he was doing a junket for Star Trek Into Darkness and other projects before talking about Sherlock, the vacationing actor launched into a long edited mimed play on how the character survived the fall he took in the Season 2 ender and what it’s like to play a modern version of Holmes. “It’s more fun making than watching,” Cumberbatch also told the crowd as he thanked the fans for watching and showing up. The BBC show, seen here on PBS, has currently finished two episodes of its upcoming Season 3 and about to start on a third.
PBS-via-BBC series Sherlock is making its first trip to San Diego’s Comic-Con this month, reports EW. But the popular modernized take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth will be absent stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Neither Cumberbatch nor Freeman will appear at the convention despite being favorite genre stars of the moment, in particular Cumberbatch, who’s just coming off of Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness and I’m told never was scheduled to attend. Both actors are also in Peter Jackson‘s still-filming Hobbit sequels, which Jackson revealed yesterday won’t be represented at Comic-Con 2013 at all. That’s where Freeman will be spending his Comic-Con: on the set of The Hobbit. Instead, co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will bring geek cred to the Sherlock panel; Moffat and Gatiss came up with the series take while writers on BBC juggernaut Doctor Who. Sherlock producer Sue Verte will also join the panel, time and location TBA. The third season of Sherlock is expected to premiere stateside in 2014.
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 Golden Globe nominations for playing a modern-day, tech-savvy Sherlock Holmes alongside Freeman’s Watson, told the UK’s Radio Times today the pair has agreed to do two seasons after Season 2, which aired on PBS in the U.S. in May. “We’ve agreed to two more series but I could get into trouble for saying that,” Cumberbatch said during the South Bank Show Awards today in London. “All I know at the moment is I’m doing these three [episodes of the upcoming series] and another three.” He also said he and Freeman would like to do more seasons but it depends on their increasingly busy schedules as well as the schedule of co-creator Steven Moffat, who also runs the BBC’s Doctor Who.
Sherlock last aired in the UK in January 2012. It was originally due to begin filming Season 3 this past January, but again the stars’ busy schedules delayed the start. Cumberbatch was in Germany shooting Wikileaks movie The Fifth Estate in January and Freeman stars in The Hobbit trilogy — in which Cumberbatch also stars. Now Season 3 will air in the winter in the U.S.
The Hobbit star Martin Freeman begins voice work this week on Saving Santa, a new animated feature from UK actor/producers Terry Stone and Nick Simunek of Gateway Animation Studios. The pair are producing the £5 million picture with Saving Santa creator Tony Nottage. Veteran animation exec Max Howard is executive producer, and I hear the team is currently in negotiations with a Hollywood major on a distribution pact. Animator Leon Joosen, whose credits include The Little Mermaid and the Scooby Doo movies, is directing the Back To The Future meets classic Christmas tale about a clumsy elf who must travel back in time to save Santa’s Kingdom from the evil Neville Baddington. Ricky Roxburgh wrote the screenplay. The all-Brit cast is rounded out by Tim Curry, Noel Clarke, Joan Collins, Pam Ferris, Craig Fairbrass and Chris Barrie. Delivery is expected in time for Christmas 2012.
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.
The first of the Peter Jackson-directed installments will be called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Warner Bros will release the film Dec. 14, 2012. The second installment, The Hobbit: There And Back Again, will be released a year later, on Dec. 13, 2013. The films revolve around the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), and his efforts to thwart the fearsome dragon Smaug. I’d heard way back when that Jackson was eyeing Bill Nighy to provide the voice of the dragon, but Jackson hasn’t yet announced who he got, and I’m told the whole thing is being kept under lockdown. Jackson has brought back from The Lord of the Rings such cast members as Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee and Hugo Weaving.
The other unanswered question is, since Jackson is shooting the Hobbit films in 3D, will New Line owner Warner Bros convert the original LOTR franchise into 3D format? Despite the recent indications that audiences are tiring of forking over extra money for 3D conversions on films that seem just as palatable in 2D, seeing Middle Earth in 3D through that classic trilogy seems like an event that many would feel is worth an extra couple of bucks. It would give the trilogy a new theatrical and ancillary life. It seems inevitable, though it might be a ways down the line.
Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman Animations announced they’ve set Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey and Ashley Jenson to provide the voices in The Pirates! Band of Misfits, a stop-motion 3D animated pic that will be released March 30, 2012. Aardman’s Peter Lord is directing a script by Gideon Dafoe.
Grant’s character? A bearded pirate captain who is vying for the Pirate of the Year Award. When I got a missive about a Hugh Grant film, I got a little excited. Because he doesn’t work much and his last few films have been underwhelming Hollywood comedies like Did You Hear About the Morgans and Music and Lyrics. This is the guy who owns the British romantic comedy, from Four Weddings and a Funeral to Love Actually (his British prime minister character wears well even if you’ve seen the film 50 times), Notting Hill, About A Boy and those Bridget Jones films. So, great to see Grant working and who wouldn’t want to be a cartoon pirate? But can somebody please lock Grant and Richard Curtis in a room and not let them out until they’ve come up with something in the way of a live action British comedy?
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.)