Mark Gatiss on the Enduring Fame & Charm Of Sherlock Holmes
Reaching the end of BBC’s Sherlock season three (S3), fans are anxious to know of what comes next for the great detective. Luckily there’s a season 4 in the works; co-creator Steven Moffat has confirmed it. No matter how long it takes to make it – as the two leading men of the show are currently busy with their own projects – fans will definitely continue to wait eagerly.
Meanwhile, we can probably wait by checking out all of co-creator and co-writer Mark Gatiss’ favorite Sherlock Holmes incarnations that inspired him and Moffat on the series.
“Our favorite was always Basil Rathbone in the films of the ‘40s because those films seemed to us to have more of the true spirit of Conan Doyle than a lot of the other adaptations,” Gatiss confesses to us via phone from Liverpool. “Having said that, Jeremy Brett was amazing; he was the definitive Sherlock Holmes for a whole generation. We love those stories well and Peter Cushing and Douglas Wilmer in the ‘60s… there are loads and loads of them. But I think the Rathbone and Nigel Bruce films are the ones that we keep coming back to. That plus the Billy Wilder’s film, The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, in 1970. Those are the big touchstones for us.”
Mind you, though he says “favorite”, all of it comes with a bit of disclaimer… “It’s very hard to say because everybody has their favorite and people get very upset if we name someone else!”
In addition to the Guy Ritchie films from 2009 and 2011, plus the American TV series featuring the detective (Elementary), modern audiences are spoiled for choice when it comes to watching Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters in live action format. Gatiss has a good theory on the phenomenon.
“It has to be almost entirely down to the fact that the original stories are so brilliant. Arthur Conan Doyle is a genius writer, probably the best short story writer we’ve ever had. He was just a master of the form,” Gatiss muses.
He also credits Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson’s relationship for being one of the main attractions of the stories. “The characters of Holmes and Watson have endured so much because it’s one of the great friendships in literature and people always respond to that. They shouldn’t be friends but they are and that’s what makes it brilliant. I think the fact that we see Sherlock through Dr. Watson’s eyes, as it were, means that he always appears as a slightly god-like figure. And that’ an enormous part of the appeal.”