With the third and concluding episode to run this Sunday and “Sherlock parties” planned up and down Britain to celebrate, here are seven reasons to love Sherlock:
1 The advent of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock.
For many, life can now be broadly divided into “BBC” and “ABC” — “Before Benedict Cumberbatch” and “After Benedict Cumberbatch”. Although Cumberbatch was, of course, a well-respected actor before — Bafta-nominated for his role of a young Stephen Hawking in Hawking — it’s hard to perv someone slowly crumbling into motor neurone disease; although, to be fair, I totally gave it my best shot.
As one of the most dashing characters in literary history, however, Sherlock-facilitated Cumberbatch Love has never felt easier or more natural. He’s one of the cleverest men who ever lived! With the unexpectedly attractive quirk of being borderline sociopathic! In the first episode he thrashes a corpse with a riding crop by way of saying hello. He’s lavishly, wonkily beautiful, 900 ft tall, has a voice like a jaguar hiding in a cello, and would clearly be able to work out in a second what a 15 per cent tip should be — even if the total were tricksy, such as an odd number, or ended in 78p or something.
2 Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson is no can of bad beans, either.
Indeed, working out if you’re Team Watson or Team Holmes has been one of the main preoccupations of the girls and gays in the past two weeks. Freeman’s rebooted, demobbed Watson has got a bit of Daniel Craig’s Bond about him — a darkness, a carefully concealed liking for danger — while still being adorably, blinkingly Tim from The Office. In the face of this often agonising love-choice, many have opted to go sideways and go Team Lestrade instead. DI Lestrade is, after all, Rupert Graves.
3 Slight homoerotic frisson.
“And there is another bedroom — if you want it!” the landlady Mrs Hudson trills to Watson when he comes to view 221b Baker Street. “I’ll get some candles — more romantic,” the café-owner offers, as Holmes and Watson eat supper, mid-sleuth. Yeah. If there’s anything better than a hot Holmes and Watson, then it’s a hot Holmes and Watson who might, at some point, tenderly kiss when tied to a tree by Moriarty.
4 Pin-point second-string casting.
Mark Gatiss as a scenery-chewing Mycroft Holmes. Lisa McAllister as Mycroft’s posh, eye-rolling assistant — one of the deftest comedy cameos of the year. Zoe Telford as Watson’s bird. And Una! Una Stubbs! When her Mrs Hudson appeared in the doorway of 221b Baker Street, welcoming in Holmes — “Sherlock!” — a sudden Proustian rush engulfed the whole country. Stubbs! Stubbso! In a big weekend show! It’s like Worzel Gummidge, all over again! Everyone regressed, started sucking their thumbs and fancying a Findus Crispy Pancake.
5 Constant playing with expectations.
We know Sherlock loves his drugs. Morphine, coke — whatever the pleasingly wide-ranging Victorian pharmacies of the time would stock. So when a shot starts with Holmes dramatically sitting up in bed, eyes blasted wide open, sighing as something hits his veins, we’re all like: “Here we go. Sherlock’s on the pop’n’chop again.” But when we pull back, it reveals it’s just that he’s riding three nicotine patches at the same time: “It’s a three-patch problem.” Later on, however, when Lestrade raids his flat, Holmes is very jumpy about what they might find. So, for that matter, is Mrs Hudson: “It was just a herbal remedy! For my hip!” Pure delight.
6 Holmes’s coat.
Observing how very, very fine Holmes looks in his greatcoat — lapels flicked up here, buckle detail there, rampaging hotness from collar to vent — the women of Britain have been greatly tempted to put their menfolk in just such an item, when the weather turns inclement, and “play Sherlock” on a Friday night. Alas — when I e-mail the Sherlock director Paul McGuigan for the item-number in the Kay’s catalogue, he delivers a bombshell: “It’s a vintage Belstaff, of which only four were ever made — and we have two.” The women of Britain are just going to have to make do with Roger wearing that Gortex anorak for another year.