The Abominable Bride DVD extra: ‘Sherlockology Q&A’
This is a transcript of new material which appears only on the ‘Sherlockology Q&A’ Special Feature of the DVD. I haven’t transcribed every ‘er,’ ‘um,’ ‘you know’ 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: Obviously this contains major spoilers for “The Abominable Bride.” 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!
“The Abominable Bride” DVD extra: ‘Sherlockology Q&A’
Interview with Amanda Abbington – ‘Mary Watson’
Which episode was the most emotional to shoot?
The episode that was most emotional to shoot was His Last Vow because I had to do quite a sad scene with me and Martin when he forgives me, and it was really quite hard doing that, ’cause of course you kind of draw on What Ifs and to make yourself cry you sort of go to places to make yourself cry. But, yeah, it sort of made me think, ‘Oh God, I would never wanna be in this position with Martin.’ So, yeah, it was really nice, then we had a big hug at the end of it, so it was fine. His Last Vow was quite emotional.
If you had to swap characters for an episode, who would it be and why?
I think I’d like to play Moriarty. I’d like to be Moriarty, but you can’t even touch Andrew. He’s just ... I’m fascinated by him. He’s just a genius actor. But in terms of the character, yeah; it’d be nice to be a female Moriarty. A Foriarty – that’s a female Moriarty.
Who swears the most?
Well, we all know who swears the most. Martin Freeman. Martin Freeman swears the most all the live-long day.
What’s the most memorable moment on set?
When we did The Sign of Three when Ben was doing his Best Man speech, it was like a memorable week. We were all in a hotel together and it was summer and we were filming in this beautiful garden and we all decided – like, Yasmin and Lou and me and Rupert and Una – we were all together in this big marquee in between takes, and we had the best time. Rupert would bring out his guitar, and Una – we played Give Us A Clue ... and for all those youngsters out there, Give Us A Clue [click for link] was a mime show, a charades show, and she was fantastic. But it was a week of just being really happy, filming a really fantastic show, and just laughing. I just remember laughing a lot and then going out for dinner in the evening with everybody; and Mark was there, and obviously Ben and Martin and it was a really lovely time in my life, that week of filming it. It was perfect.
Describe your own character in a word.
(Amanda grimaces before she answers.) Flawed. (She giggles.)
If you could be Sherlock for a day, what would you do?
I’d go round to all the people I know, my friends that I know, and I’d ask them really probing personal questions about me and see if they were lying.
Interview with Una Stubbs – ‘Mrs. Hudson’
On Sherlock Fans
I think the Sherlock fans are really rather special, and they come from all over the world, which is extraordinary to me. After all these years, I’ve never experienced this before. They come from Russia – suddenly you’re in Piccadilly and you’re being surrounded by Russians. (She giggles.) It’s extraordinary.
Will Mrs Hudson get a bigger living space in this episode?
I think that one is led to imagine that Mrs Hudson has a dear little flat downstairs, but it’s overtaken by lots of Sherlock’s shirts that she launders. She makes out that she doesn’t, but she does.
What was the most emotional scene for you so far?
I think they all are quite emotional episodes in lots of ways. The most emotional is when the series comes to an end, and we’ve got a break.
Is Mrs Hudson going to be given more to do this series?
A lot of people ask me, “Are you going to have more to do?” and you think, ‘No! She’s the housekeeper; and it would be odd if she had much more to do.’ I like what I’m given.
What personal touches do you bring to the character?
Obviously when I was offered Mrs Hudson, I knew that she’d been played in so many different ways beforehand, and the only way I could think of doing it was – how it came to me – was as a mother.
What does Sherlock eat?
I think Sherlock eats a load of rubbish – except when I feed him.
What is your most memorable scene?
It’s difficult to say what was the most memorable occasion on set. I think it’s after you’ve finished a scene that you’ve enjoyed, then it becomes memorable. You think, ‘Oh, I did enjoy that.’
Which scenes were the most fun to shoot?
For me, the scenes which are the most enjoyable are the ones that have humour. I really enjoy being involved in that. I’ve just done a scene with Rupert and it was quite amusing and I really enjoyed it.
What is the hardest part of your job?
I think the hardest part is when you first start learning it, and then the fear that you’re not going to get it into your mind, but it’s lovely when eventually you do.
What is your favourite line?
“I’m your landlady, not your housekeeper.”
What is a day on set like?
Our time on the set – it sort of varies every time, but we start very, very early in the morning and then sometimes, on certain days, we go right the way through the night until six o’clock the next day, and then we have obviously to have a sleep-in to catch up. But it’s all different. But it’s pretty concentrated because everybody has to finish at a certain time to get on to their next jobs, particularly the boys.
Interview with David Nellist – ‘Mike Stamford’
Who swears the most on set?
It’s normally the First AD [Assistant Director]. He’s the person that’s gotta get everybody whipped into shape and keep everything moving along, so I would say First AD.
What is the most memorable moment?
When we shot the pilot originally, so we were filming in the actual Criterion and there’s a brass plaque which ... There’s a photo of me and Martin in front of where it says, ‘This is where Mike Stamford first introduced Watson to Holmes,’ I think it says, something like that, so there’s a photograph of us in front of the actual plaque.
Could you work with Sherlock?
I think in Bart’s we do work together sometimes. I think I could be a Watson stand-in if John’s away with Mary. Yeah, I could stand in there.
Why wasn’t Stamford at the wedding?
There’s an actual reason why I wasn’t at the wedding. I was away doing a play called Blue Remembered Hills up at Northern Stage in Newcastle, and that’s why I wasn’t at the wedding, unfortunately.
Which scenes are the most fun to shoot and which are the most difficult?
I think the most fun to shoot, for an actor, it’s the ones which are one-on-one, ’cause you can just focus purely on talking to the other actor; and I think the hardest ones are the ones where you have the most people, because it becomes less about ... You might do a fantastic take and it wasn’t in focus, or the horse in the background did something wrong, or an extra did something different; so I like the ones where it’s just the two or just the three of you.
Describe your character in one word.
Who is the funniest on set?
I would say the naughtiest on set – certainly the funniest – is Mark Gatiss. He’s the joker; he’s the quiet, dry sense of humour always coming up with the funniest line.
Interview with Sue Vertue – ‘Executive Producer’
Will we ever see John’s sister?
Who can tell? ’Cause I never know what the boys are gonna do, so they may well have plans, they may well not have plans.
How long does it take Benedict to learn the deductions?
They tend to have ... they have one or two days off a week, and that’s when you’re gonna have to do the bulk of your learning for the week, and then obviously every night they have to learn what they’re doing the next day. And some things you see ’em learning for days and days and days, and every time there’s a bit of time, he’s off in the corner. They’re hard to learn.
If you could change one thing about the show, what would it be?
(Thoughtfully) What would it be? I mean, I’m sure people would like me to say, “More episodes.” I’m not sure I would want to make more episodes; so I don’t know. I sort of like it the way it is, really. Five-day weeks, which I think we’re gonna do.
What did Molly give Sherlock for Christmas?
Ahh! Not saying.
With all the humour, is it hard to keep a straight face on set?
Yes, actually. Yeah, it’s quite tricky when they do something and you’ve got ... the sound’s running and you think, ‘I can’t laugh now. I can’t laugh now.’
What is your favourite online theory as to how Sherlock survived the fall?
I’ve seen some very funny ones online. I liked the one where he suddenly flies up again, online. And there was a guy who did a very, very long, like five-minute whiteboard presentation about how he survived. I thought that was dedicated. I was really worried, actually, because between the series you’d suddenly see this headline going, “This is how he survived,” and I’d think, ‘Oh my God, they’ve found out how he did it,’ and then it’d be something stupid like him just flying up again!
Which scene had the most takes and why?
I think possibly – and I think for obvious reasons it took a while – was the plane deduction scene from Benedict. It was a huge deduction scene and he really had to get it all done in one go.
Have you ever stolen anything from the set?
No! Of course I haven’t ... (thoughtfully) or have I? (She giggles.)
How long does it take to shoot an episode?
It’s getting slightly longer. I think the first series was twenty-two days, and the Victorian one was longer, I think that was twenty-seven. About twenty-five days.
Are there any rituals or traditions that you repeat when you shoot a new series?
No; we have the read-through and everyone goes round the table and there is that lovely moment when Benedict and Martin both say, “My name’s Martin Freeman and I play John Watson,” and Benedict says, "My name’s Benedict Cumberbatch and I play Sherlock Holmes,” and it’s lovely. That’s a lovely moment.
Interview with Steven Moffat – ‘Executive Producer’
Who needs Sherlock more, John or Moriarty?
Oh, John needs Sherlock more. I don’t think Moriarty needs anyone really. He enjoyed Sherlock as a distraction from the sheer tedium and insanity of his existence, whereas John and Sherlock have a very warm, very sincere friendship that is – certainly initially – mutually redemptive. I think they’re both saved now, in a way, so they know they don’t have to redeem each other all the time, but they are just very, very, very good friends. [It’s] relatively rare to portray your central relationship in a show as a friendship, so that’s quite special, I think.
Do you and Mark Gatiss argue over the plots for Sherlock?
We’ve never really argued about Sherlock at all. We have actually been on the same side of every debate about Sherlock. We just don’t disagree.
Where does Sherlock get his money from?
Sherlock doesn’t live badly. There’s no indication that he lives badly at all. I think, one: he comes from a wealthy family – that’s clear; and two: he makes his money – he does fine, Sherlock Holmes. He chooses to live the way he does because he likes it, but there’s no suggestion ever in Sherlock [that] he doesn’t have enough cash.
Did Sherlock have any friends as a child?
We don’t really get into very much the specifics of what Sherlock was like as a child because I always think that feels like giving away too many secrets, but the indications are from The Empty Hearse that Sherlock and Mycroft just knew each other for a long while, then were introduced to other children and then, and only then, realised that they were different. But in the original stories he does have friends. He has old friends from his college days and so on, so that does happen. He’s not Mr Spock; he’s a human being. So yeah, he would have had friends; we just don’t specify it much.
Where would you like to set an episode of Sherlock?
Well, generally speaking, I don’t think Sherlock really should move much out of London. I think it’s a very London show ... he said of a show that’s predominantly shot in Cardiff and Bristol. I kind of think London. I like Sherlock Holmes in London.
Which villain would you like to see on the show?
There are other villains in the original canon that we haven’t touched yet, and I’m not gonna say what they are, but we’ve got our eyes on a couple of them. So wait and see!
Which scenes are the most fun and which are the most difficult?
The most fun we have on Sherlock – when Sherlock feels at its most definitive when you really want to visit the set – is when we’re on the 221B set, the actual sitting room. That always feels like the real thing somehow. I always like to go on set for that, and everyone loves that set. And we actually play quite a lot of the series in 221B, so the 221B scenes are always the most exciting somehow, even though it’s the most standard. What’s the most difficult? The most difficult things tend to be if Sherlock has got a long elaborate deduction to do. Those are hell for Benedict.
Do you ever feel the urge to do something shocking with the show?
Well, we wouldn’t do anything ... we have no desire, no interest in doing anything that is totally wrong for Doyle. We’re not gonna massively contradict him. I mean, minor things like what century it’s set in, yes, but ... We don’t stick to the canon; it’s not a restriction. It’s an amazing platform, that’s what it is. It’s not a cage. It’s a stage. There’s nothing restrictive about it. But no – we’re not going to do what Doyle would never have done. No. Not because we feel obliged, not because we feel constrained, but because if you want to get Sherlock Holmes right, do what Doyle does, ’cause he’s the best at it.
What question would you ask Arthur Conan Doyle?
I would ask if he’d be honest with me and tell me, didn’t he know that when he killed Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem that he’d left a huge loophole to get him out? ’Cause he claims in every contemporary interview, in every statement he ever made, that he was definitely through with Sherlock Holmes. And I want the truth. I don’t believe him. If you were definitely through with Sherlock Holmes, why wasn’t the body there? Why are we reliant on an offstage death and Doctor Watson’s deductions – which have, to that point and ever since, always been wrong? The mere fact that Doctor Watson declares it was obvious what had happened should set alarm bells around the world saying, ‘What, you mean obvious to you, Doctor Watson, who have never been right about a single thing?’!
How did Sherlock and Lestrade meet?
We don’t know. It’s never covered canonically how Sherlock and Lestrade met. It might be an interesting thing to do some day. I mean, I imagine by Sherlock Holmes blundering into an investigation and Lestrade saying, “Now, hang on, hang on, hang on: that guy – that lunatic posh bloke that everyone wants to punch – he’s right and you are all wrong.” That’s what I imagine would have happened in our modern-day version. In the Victorian version, something similar. Lestrade would think, ‘I can’t stand him – he’s really annoying, but he’s good. Let’s get him along. If we want to win, we need him on our side.’
Are Sherlock and Mycroft friends?
I don’t think they’d ever get on especially well, Sherlock and Mycroft. I mean, there’s a very strong bond there which expresses itself in odd ways. Mycroft is actually very caring about Sherlock. He’s actually – given that he’s a reptilian sociopath – he’s actually very caring about his brother. He does try to look after him, try to look out for him, try to gather him in to the family and to the establishment that is so important to Mycroft. He genuinely loves his brother: Mycroft actually says it, albeit slightly drugged; he does actually say that it would break his heart if anything happened to Sherlock. And although Sherlock absolutely professes nothing but loathing and disdain for his older brother, he also absolutely rock-hard knows that his brother will always be there for him and always look after him, and that’s a different way of expressing love, actually. That’s a different way of saying it; just saying, ‘I know that person will never let me down.’ You never pay anybody a higher compliment, whatever else you say about them, when you say, ‘I know they will never let me down.’ So it’s a complex and interesting relationship, Sherlock and Mycroft.
A full list of episode transcripts, DVD commentary summaries/transcripts, and transcripts of the DVD special features can be found here.