Sherlock Comic Con panel reveals three clues for series 4 sleuths, but what do they mean?
Three clues have been released to help Sherlock fans unpick the mysteries of series four in advance of its release in 2017.
The clues were revealed at the weekend’s Sherlock panel at San Diego Comic Con 2016, at which series stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes), Amanda Abbington (Mary Watson), Mark Gatiss (co-creator/executive producer/writer), Steven Moffat (co-creator/executive producer/writer), and Sue Vertue (producer) were all in attendance and a brand new trailer was unveiled.
Moffat, Gatiss and Vertue have previously released three clues for upcoming series of the show at Comic Con, and 2016 was no exception. The end of the panel revealed three names that hint at what to expect in the new series.
Ready? They are Smith, Thatcher and Sherrinford.
— Reetu Kabra (@ReetuKabra) July 24, 2016
We’ve searched high and low to figure out the meanings of these clues, and here’s what we have. Firstly, the significance of Smith.
There is a character with the surname Smith in Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock novels who has not yet appeared in the BBC One adaptation, named Culverton Smith. He appears in a short story called The Adventure of the Dying Detective, which is part of the His Last Bow collection of stories.
During this story, Sherlock is mysteriously struck down by a severe illness and refuses to let Watson call a doctor. He asks only for a man named Culverton Smith, who arrives at Baker Street as requested. It transpires that Smith has poisoned Sherlock, in the same way he murdered his nephew. However, as Smith admits to the crime Sherlock reveals he was never ill in the first place, and was merely pretending to be to hear Smith’s admission of guilt.
An adapted version of this story would make sense, given the sinister-looking hospital sequence present in the series four trailer.
The name Sherrinford is similarly referenced in the Sherlock literature, as – and this is where it gets interesting – a hypothetical older brother of Sherlock and Mycroft.
In the books, both Sherlock and Mycroft can be seen running around solving mysteries – with neither Holmes son left in charge of their family estate. It seems odd, given the period, unless there was another – older – brother who stayed out of the limelight. In a fictional biography of Sherlock by scholar William Stuart Baring-Gould, such a hypothetical brother was named ‘Sherrinford’ – a name that Conan Doyle himself considered before deciding on Sherlock as his protagonist’s moniker.
The name Thatcher is a lot harder to place. Could Sherlock be planning a story based around the controversial Conservative politician from three decades past? It’s not a name that has appeared in the books, but one fan did recognise the name has been used in the show before.
Culverton Smith. Sherrinford Holmes. Maggie Thatcher? There's a post called The Six Thatchers on John's blog https://t.co/Ag3vmEINRS
— Sherlock of Baker St (@DetectiveShezza) July 24, 2016
Could we be revisiting an unseen story about Sherlock recovering six pottery figures of Maggie? We don’t know, but it’s certainly food for thought.