This Sunday sees the start of yet another TV adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic, Sherlock. But this BBC version is unlike those before it and, I suspect, those that come after it. This version is set in the present day. Die-hard Sherlock fans may grumble, and even I had my reservations, but having watched the first episode I can only come to one conclusion: this is going to be one of the TV highlights of the year.
Written by Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the three-parter is set in a modern-day London, where self-confessed sociopath Sherlock Holmes uses text messages and the internet as tools of his trade. Benedict Cumberbatch (possibly the best name in showbusiness) slides neatly into the role of the genius detective, and masterfully transfers the character from the 1800s into the present day. His trusty sidekick, Dr Watson, isn’t the bumbling idiot he’s often portrayed to be in other adaptations. On the contrary, this is a doctor who has just come back from the war in Afghanistan. Mark Gatiss explains, this is true to the original Conan Doyle book, where the doctor had been serving in the Afghan war of the late 19th century. Martin Freeman puts on a stand-out performance as John Watson – a man whose thirst for danger leads him into becoming Holmes’ accomplice.
Two things that instantly strike me about the new series are the darkness and the humour. Given the stories are about crime, you’d expect a little darkness. But, staying true to the original books, the story is also littered with cleverly-written jokes that weave in well with the rest of the dialogue. As well as seeing Watson in a different light, we also see a more humane side to Holmes every now and again, when he shares a joke or two with his sidekick. The new take on an old classic makes for a clever and captivating reinvention. The 3 x 90-minute series starts this Sunday on BBC One at 9pm, set your videos – you don’t want to miss this one.