This is a transcript of new material which appears only on the ‘The Fall’ Special Feature of the Season 3 DVD. It does not include a transcript of the clips from the episodes which are shown throughout the feature, nor does it include descriptions of every visual moment. I haven’t transcribed every ‘er’ and ‘um’ and stutter as the interviewees speak but I hope that it may be useful in particular to viewers whose first language is not English and who are unable to access the subtitles.
Warning: Contains major spoilers for “The Empty Hearse.” Enter with care if you haven’t seen the episode yet.
As always, please remember that some of the comments made by people may look serious in plain print but are actually meant sarcastically or humorously.
If you quote extracts from this elsewhere, a link back to this page would be much appreciated!
Season 3 DVD extra: ‘The Fall’:
Transcriber’s Note 1: This Extra is a very visual one. I am deliberately not transcribing much of the visual stuff, because you really ought to buy the DVD to see it!
Transcriber’s Note 2: There are some crew members who speak to each other but are not identified by name. I’ve taken a best guess at who they are/how they’re involved.
STEVEN MOFFAT: When we started work on Series 2, we thought ... we knew how we were going to end it. We knew that we’d throw Sherlock Holmes off a building, in effect, and he’d plunge to his death, and we wouldn’t cheat, like Doyle did – that we would see him die, and he would die – as he surely must – in Watson’s arms. He would definitely be dead; and at the very last shot ...
MARK GATISS: ... he isn’t! (He laughs.)
STEVEN: Sherlock Holmes will just be standing there. And we wouldn’t tell people how.
MARTIN FREEMAN: It was so clear that he had died, you know – it was just very, very clear; and then you see him at the end and say, “Well, how did that happen?”
On location with the fans gathered outside North Gower Street. A group of fans are all talking over each other.
FAN 1: Oh, many theories.
FAN 2: Oh my God!
FAN 3: Many, many theories.
FAN 1: We have many theories.
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: What people don’t realise about the Coat is it is, in fact, a flying suit.
A title comes up on the screen headed: Theory 1
BENEDICT: When you fall further than about ... (he makes a thoughtful sound) ... a hundred feet, you then can basically start to glide.
FAN 4: I did think he might have had, like, a double ...
FAN 4: ... or maybe he landed on a ledge ...
FAN 4: ... or caught on to a ledge.
On location with the fans at St Bart’s Hospital.
FAN 5: I think the crowd was in on it.
FAN 6: Yeah.
FAN 7: The whole Homeless Network, the whole Homeless Network.
MARTIN: In the street, people would stop me and say, “How did he do it?” And at that stage I genu... I wasn’t being cute. I really didn’t know.
FAN 3 (at NGS): Some people use medication to stop their pulse for a while ...
FAN 3: ... so you’re still breathing and everything like that, but your pulse stops.
FAN 5 (at SBH): Also, like, probably the ball under the arm thing.
MARK: It became a national talking point for months, really.
FAN 1 (at NGS): You’re seeing it from John’s point of view, and John hits his head just before this happens. He’s hearing Sherlock saying that he’s gonna kill himself ...
FAN 1: ... It’s all in his head. So I reckon Sherlock throws Moriarty off the roof ...
FAN 1: ... Molly’s already in on it, ’cause Sherlock’s gone to see Molly earlier.
LOUISE BREALEY: I’ve literally spent a year and a half going, “I can’t possibly tell you,” to, you know, thousands of people.
MARTIN: The theories were thick and fast. They came thick and fast – some of them very good, and some of them barmy.
MARK: Gravity boots ...
MARK: ... an enormous inflatable arse ...
MARK: ... Pegasus ...
STEVEN: Yeah. The TARDIS.
MARK: The TARDIS.
MARK: The levels of ingenuity are rather impressive, I think.
STEVEN: Oh, massively so.
FAN 8 (at NGS): Sherlock falls down ...
FAN 8: ... However, at the bottom there is a plate or a [word indecipherable], like a slab of concrete or something. That’s removed, there’s a net underneath; he falls onto the net; he’s fine. As John’s getting up, he gets up; someone – I don’t know, possibly Molly and some of her friends – push the [word indecipherable] back into place; he lies down, lots of blood spread over. It’s been done before. It’s not a trick.
MARTIN: If people spent this much time on actual deaths and actual murders, we’d have everything solved in two weeks, you know! ’Cause people really did want to know how he did it.
STEVEN: The fun thing is – and what people have absolutely got into is – if you watch “The Reichenbach Fall”, there are elements there that point in certain directions, in things that Sherlock does.
MARK: Obviously it had to be ... it had to be possible.
STEVEN: What we also realised at that point was we would need a very, very good explanation, so we got help in. Got an expert in on how would you stage such a thing; how would you pull off such a deception.
MARK: There are, um, Sherlock suicide experts who are ‘consultalable’.
MARK: There are consulting suicide experts!
STEVEN: ‘Consulting suicide ...’!
MARK: He lives in 222...2 Baker Street.
(Steven cracks up laughing.)
MARK: It’s right up the top!
On location outside Bart’s.
JEREMY LOVERING (Director, “The Empty Hearse”): Sherlock jumps off the top of Bart’s and John Watson is behind the ambulance station, and everyone thought he was dead. We know he’s not. There are several explanations that are happening during this episode. We did one of them yesterday, which was kind of inside one of the fans’ heads. We’re now doing Version three, which is the correct one, which is him jumping onto an airbag whilst John is behind the ambulance station, so he can’t see; and the airbag gets whisked away. Then we’re doing Version number one, which is a fake one, which is him doing a bungee jump which takes him back up through a window.
JEAN-CLAUDE DEGUARA (talking to someone else): Obviously I’ve got three other cameras shooting the same thing.
STEVE LAWES (Directory of Photography, “The Empty Hearse”): I’ve got two big stunts to do today. We’ve got four cameras out, lots of different angles, plus a Phantom camera. Today is really about the stunts.
MAN IN CONTROL OF THE CHERRY PICKER: Going up.
ANOTHER CREW MEMBER (in the cherry picker once it gets a long way up): Looks different from up here, doesn’t it?
FIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (over bullhorn): Action.
(Benedict’s stunt double falls from the cherry picker and onto the airbag.)
WILL WILLOUGHBY (Sherlock stunt double, back on the ground): It is perfect, because Benedict’s probably gonna do it from round about that height, so – being his double – I’ve got to see how it’s gonna be for him, not just for me. We want it to be as comfortable for Ben as possible.
FIRST A.D. (over bullhorn): Action.
(Will does the fall onto the airbag again, Ben watching from the cherry picker. Will rolls off and the crew pick it up.)
CREW LEADER: Go!
(Will runs alongside as the crew carry the airbag towards the left side of the ambulance station.)
JEREMY: Once we’ve done it with a stuntman, Benedict comes and does what he’s comfortable with, and that’s the bit I’ll use.
FIRST A.D. (over bullhorn): Action.
(Benedict does the stunt, the airbag is carried off again, then Ben walks over to Will.)
BENEDICT: Was that all right?
WILL: Really good!
TONI STAPLES (1st Assistant Director): He was brilliant. His heart was beating; checked his pulse(!) He was a top man. He’s doing it again.
(Up on the cherry picker again, a stunt advisor coaches Benedict as they look down at the air bag.)
STUNT ADVISOR: Put your shoulder to the front, right foot slightly forward as you do the fall.
(On the ground)
TONI (over bullhorn): Three, two, one, action.
(Ben does the fall again. Crew members on the left of the airbag pull it down and Ben rolls quickly off.)
CREW LEADER: He’s off – go, go!
CREW MEMBER: He’s off!
CREW LEADER: Go, go!
(They pick up the air bag and run off with it, Ben running alongside.)
JEAN-CLAUDE DEGUARA (VFX Supervisor, at the shoot): There’s no major shots planned in CGI for this. It’s gonna mainly all be caught in-camera, but if something needs to be taken out or put in, then that’s what we’re here for.
Benedict is hauled up into the air, face-down, by cables.
MATTHEW MCDOUGAL (Compositor) (at his computer): The bungee cord sequence where he’s falling down the outside of the building – my job was to get rid of the wires from the actual scene and replace it with a CG bungee cord. The way that we did this was actually take still frames of the building when there was actually no Sherlock there, paint out the wires, and then it was just a simple matter of rotoring – basically creating a layer of Benedict Cumberbatch and putting that back over the image with the CG bungee cord cable. The bungee cord is totally CG, totally fake, and it’s lit and textured in such a way that it looks real.
JEAN-CLAUDE: One thing about Sherlock that’s great is that they really do try and capture it all in-camera with very few enhancements from us.
MATTHEW: For the sequence of shots where Benedict Cumberbatch is coming in through the window, we shot in front of a greenscreen. The initial shot, we used a stuntman who flies through a sugar glass window, which has a very similar effect to glass. In the second shot, we did use Benedict Cumberbatch. The glass elements that you see on the top have actually been placed on him and on his jacket and his hair so that, as he flies through the window in the studio, it actually interacts with him. We’ve also shot a plate of a real glass window so that when they were put together in the final shot, it actually looks like Benedict is flying through a real glass window.
Back on location at Bart’s, it’s chucking it down with rain. Benedict is suspended on the wires face downwards several feet up.
WOMAN (offscreen): Everyone happy?
TONI (over bullhorn): And action.
(Ben is dropped several feet and grunts as he jerks to a halt. He grunts again as he is hauled upwards.)
STEVE: Maintaining the continuity when it obviously goes from sunshine in the morning to rain at night – you have to decide a kind of base that you’re happy with. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny, but we’re gonna have a wet floor, so we’re gonna wet the floor down again so it matches what we’ve shot today. Sometimes there is a little bit of rain in the air. Sometimes you see it, sometimes you don’t. You have to be sort of, like, knowledgeable about what you can get away with and what you can’t.
SUE VERTUE: It’s very hard to keep things secret if you’re shooting outside. And I saw one bit of press saying ... it was when we had the dummy with the face mask on – and the press said, “The stunts are so dangerous, they have to use dummies”! And they’re trying to piece together all the bits that we’re shooting and they can’t tell what’s real or what’s – you know – if they see somebody come down with a rope on, they can’t tell if that’s a stunt and a safety rope or whether that was how he survived the fall.
MARK (looking through newspapers): This is what the papers are saying about the return of Sherlock.
STEVEN (reading one of the headlines over Mark’s shoulder): “Benedict Jumper-batch.”
MARK: Good. Good.
STEVEN: Yes, we like it. Very good. (Reading other bits from the paper) “Sherlock, don’t be a dummy.” “Sherlock’s a fall guy” ... ah, which is very clever.
MARK: What’s very useful about this is that, in order to film any stunt, we have to have Benedict falling off various rigs, and obviously we have to use stunt dummies and ... So, actually, none of it is really in any way contradictory.
STEVEN: When you pretend to throw someone off a building in a show, you obviously have to make sure they don’t die.
MARK: Yes, apparently, so.
STEVEN: ... unless it’s the last day, in which case it’s absolutely fine!
MARK (laughing): You can do what you like.
MARK: My favourite bit of this shoot ... (he points at the newspaper article) ... is when ... because it was starting to pour down and Benedict was on a wire. We had to give him an umbrella [to protect him from the rain while he was suspended face down in mid-air waiting for the shot] and there was a sudden rush of flash guns going off. It was like, “Oh, he’s going ...”
STEVEN: ... “The old flying umbrella trick”!
MARK: And it really, really does look like Mary Poppins. It’s fantastic! Benedict was very keen to do all these stunts and he really hurled himself off there with abandon; but I think I read lots of them saying, “An insider says Benedict was visibly shaking,” and it’s like, it’s really not fair!
STEVEN: I’ve noticed that the ‘insider’ is frequently wrong ...
STEVEN: ... and thinks the same thing as the person who writes the article. I’m just putting it out there(!)
MARK: Who is the insider? You know when you say, “They’ve invented this thing”? You think ... eventually I started thinking, “Who are they?”
MARK: Maybe there is a “they”.
STEVEN: There’s actually a “they”!
MARK (reading from the newspaper): “No Hit, Sherlock. It’s magic!” This is Derren Brown apparently putting Martin under the ’fluence.
STEVEN: Yeah. It could just be that Martin – you know, he’s a very, very famous film star and he may need a forehead massage from a celebrity of his choice. I think that’s reasonable.
MARK: Well, the truth of it is, Martin was just very tired that day.
STEVEN: Yeah, he was.
SUE: We chucked in a few sort of red herrings of our own, really, which was fun. It was just quite nice just to throw in a few sort of things that just weren’t gonna happen at all.
JEREMY: When you read the script – which would be the same as when you watch it – you’re ... within two minutes you’re presented with an explanation, and obviously you’re going, “Oh my God! This is how he did it! This is amazing!” and then he’s on a bungee jump and you go, “That’s a bit ... Is that for real? Is that it?” The writing seems to be full of red herrings and that’s, you know, the ultimate red herring is how he did it, or how he didn’t do it.
BENEDICT: Well, I think people got quite near with some of the theories, to be honest. Very near. I mean, Molly Hooper’s involvement; and the squash ball; homeless network. I think people have been quite canny about it. It’s just sewing it all together and actually seeing it, you know, even if it is, “Ah! I knew it!”
MARK: What I’ve tried to do, really, in Episode 1 is sort of have a running commentary on the fact that there are all these amazing elaborate theories out there.
(Footage from “The Empty Hearse” when Lestrade talks with Anderson)
LESTRADE: A bungee rope ...
LESTRADE: ... a mask ...
LESTRADE: ... Derren Brown.
LESTRADE: Two years, and the theories keep getting more stupid. How many more have you got for me today?
MARTIN: Sherlock Holmes is pretty well-known. He’s well-known in our fictional London, so there would be fictional Londoners going, “How did he survive?”
MARK: We sort of tease the truth quite a lot in it, but equally also acknowledge the fact that when you’re finally at the right place in the script to get the revelation, Sherlock tells Anderson how he did it. Anderson – who has now become a sort of de facto fan of Sherlock’s – says, “Hmm – bit disappointed.” And he in fact says, “That’s not the way I would have done it.” But like all great things, it’s actually the mystery that is the fun thing, not the prosaic explanation.
STEVEN: And then, just when you think you’re safe, you’re suddenly invited to wonder if any of it was true ...
MARK: Yeah, yeah.
STEVEN: ... because, in fact – Sherlock being Sherlock – why would he tell you?!
MARK: There’s a wonderful Sherlock Holmes film, Jack the Ripper film, called “A Study in Terror” ...
MARK: ... with John Neville, and there’s a fantastic bit at the end. Sherlock has revealed who the Ripper is – I won’t spoil it – and he’s trapped in a burning building with Adrienne Corri and he really, absolutely cannot get out.
STEVEN: And he’s surrounded by flames on all sides and it’s impossible to escape.
MARK: And then it cuts back to him in Baker Street. Watson says, “How did you do it? How did you get out of there?” He says, “Well, you know I’m well-known to be indestructible.” And that’s it!
STEVEN: It’s perfect. That’s what heroes do!
MARK: So we just popped that in! We try to play with it massively; then – at the right point in the script – say, “This is how it was done,” and we’ve also left on the possibility that Sherlock is lying his arse off.
STEVEN: Just as we are! (He sniggers.)
MARK: Even now! (He laughs.)
A full list of episode transcripts, DVD commentary summaries/transcripts, and transcripts of the DVD special features can be found here.