I still have the first Sherlock Holmes book I ever owned. It had a purple spine (the purple of one of Holmes' dressing gown, I liked to imagine), a Sidney Paget illustration on the front and a wonderful introduction which ended with the magical words, "I wish I were reading these stories for the first time."

I can remember the frisson I felt then. I was reading them for the first time!

Now, more than 30 years later it's sheer delight to bring a modern-day Sherlock to BBC One. It came about as a result of very pleasant chats with Steven Moffat as both of us travelled to and from Cardiff for various Doctor Who duties.

It seems nicely fitting that it all started on a train. We're both huge fans of the original stories and the absolute copper-bottomed genius of Arthur Conan Doyle's writing.

It didn't take long, though, for us both to shyly admit that our favourite versions of the oft-told tales were the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce films of the 1930s and 1940s. Particularly the ones where they brought them up to date.

This may sound like heresy but really it isn't. Although Steven and I are second to none in loving the flaring gas-lit atmosphere of a lovely old London, it felt as though Sherlock Holmes had become all about the trappings and not the characters.

Also, the original stories are models of their kind. Incredibly modern, dialogue-driven, fast paced and short! What better way to get back to the roots of these fantastic creations than to make Holmes and Watson living, breathing, modern men just as they had been originally?

Happily for us, the BBC were immediately excited at the idea of modern Sherlock Holmes.

Some might think that's a depressing indicator of our major broadcaster falling back on the most familiar of fictional archetypes, but it isn't. Sherlock Holmes may be the most filmed character in all fiction but to reinvent him for a new audience - as well as fans - is not just thrilling and exciting, it's an honour.

From the very outset, what excited us was the very rare chance to go right back to the beginning. To get to the heart of the characters.

In the very first story, A Study in Scarlet, Dr John Watson, an army surgeon, is invalided home from war in Afghanistan. Well, sad but true, we're pretty much in the same war now.

A chance meeting with an old friend leads to him sharing rooms with a mysterious man called Sherlock Holmes. For 'sharing rooms', read 'flat-share'! Again, you don't have to strain for the modern parallels. If anything, the idea of two bachelors living together is more common now than in the 19th Century.

And then there's the immortal first meeting between the two men destined to become the best, but least likely of friends. It's still in Bart's Hospital, we still have young Stamford. What's thrilling, though, is that this legendary moment has hardly ever been dramatised.

And so a new audience gets to meet Sherlock Holmes through John Watson's eyes and ask the question: who are you?

After that, it was all fun with perplexing decisions! What are the immutable aspects of the characters and the stories? They'd call themselves Sherlock and John now, of course. Who calls their best friend by their surname?

They still live in Baker Street, but next door to a sandwich shop, and they get a good deal on the rent because Sherlock did Mrs Hudson a favour. And the lady herself! Landlady not housekeeper.

Doyle wrote of Holmes having a "certain quiet primness of dress" so we've made Sherlock a neat, almost conservative dresser. Yet he needs to feel different. Special. So the Byronic Benedict in his big winter coat can't possibly wear a paper forensic suit or it's all too CSI.

And what about that? Doyle virtually invented forensic detection. How can Sherlock exist in a world where the police do all the finger-printing, criminal profiling and analysis that were once his unique attribute?

The answer, in our version anyway, is that Sherlock Holmes is still, and always, the best and wisest man there is. The police may be able to put clues together, but only Sherlock has the vast brain power and imagination that can make the huge leaps of deduction.

As for Watson's stories for The Strand magazine, he now writes up their adventures in a blog. It is online for all to see, including references to the cases we'll never know about!

Addressing the heresy once more, I can only say again that Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are immortal. It's been a privilege and a thrill to put our new version of Doyle's blessed and wonderful creations onto the screen. We hope you enjoy. The game is on!

Mark Gatiss is the co-creator of Sherlock and writer of episode three.

Sherlock starts on Sunday, 25 July at 9pm on BBC One and BBC HD. To find out times of all future episodes, please visit the upcoming episodes page.

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  • Comment number 238. Posted by Millissa

    on 4 Mar 2011 13:00

    I love what you have done to the series, Mark. I can't seem to stop watching it because there is always something new to see. I enjoy watching it and I'm looking forward to the next series to see what other weird mysteries come up.

    Mark, you and Steven have made me a happy viewer and I am so glad that you have made this series for everyone. I am really enjoying the series on DVD and I hope you will make more in the coming year.

    Linda

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  • Comment number 237. Posted by jill_sunchic

    on 10 Jan 2011 20:38

    This is wonderful! I have long loved Conan Doyle, and find myself picky about what's on screen. This up to date version is fast, edgy and engaging! I love the new duo, they are a perfect match. Thank you for bringing Sherlock elegantly into the 21st century!
    PLEASE MAKE MORE SOON!!!!!

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  • Comment number 236. Posted by brilliantmightyquinn

    on 6 Jan 2011 16:58

    Get writing a new series PLEASE.!!!!!!!! Words dont describe how wonderful Sherlock is, A real breath of fresh air... Ive never been so excited about a second series since David Tennat replaced Chris Eccleston...More power to your elboe, Mark...loved A short History of Horror........

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  • Comment number 235. Posted by teenbeen42

    on 1 Jan 2010 00:35

    May these words never pass my lips again... but STOP WORKING ON DOCTOR WHO! I am a hardcore Whovian, but to be perfectly honest? Sherlock was such an absolutely breathtaking show that I will probably never see Benedict Cumberbatch as anyone other than the great detective. High five for casting him! And to be perfectly honest, only giving us three episodes was a horrible tease. It's almost cruel. And that ending! Even Pirates of the Carribean 2 was more satisfying! I'm not saying that as a negative thing (it's a work of genius!) but it would be on the Dalek's level of evil to leave it there forever.

    Oh, and since I'm a Canadian fan, and everyone I know who has seen this has loved it just as much, I would like to point out that this show is obviously a very good way to cash in. Provided it continues. ;)

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  • Comment number 234. Posted by Millissa

    on 21 Dec 2010 12:57

    Dear Mr Gatiss and Mr Moffat:

    Thank you for a sensational series with the sleuth that I love! SHERLOCK is the best and I am looking forward to seeing the next series!!!

    There are some wonderful storylines that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be proud of and the scenes of using 21st Century London is the best idea you have ever thought of.

    Thanks again for an entertaining look at the sleuth! You guys are amazing!

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  • Comment number 233. Posted by Hermione Skelton

    on 16 Dec 2010 12:02

    I thought this was an excellent adaptation with a fantastic cast, when will the next series start?

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  • Comment number 232. Posted by TGomozova

    on 6 Dec 2010 05:27

    Dear Mr Gatiss and Mr Moffet,

    your 'Sherlock' is just incredible.

    Trust me! :) I've been a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes more then 20 years by now, but as for movies - I could enjoy the only one, Russian version with Vassiliy Livanov.

    But, gentelman, you've caught me. Obviously! :-)

    To be honest, I don't really understand why they (John and Sherlock) so attractive but they are really charming and - somewhat like 'I know them all my life'.

    Lestrade is awesome!

    Jim is - ha-ha :) - he is brilliant. Sort of :D

    Mrs Hadson and others - everything seems to be a labor of love. And such details like thier blogs and comments - oh dear, I love it :)

    Thank you, guys. Just don't stop, please! :)

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  • Comment number 231. Posted by jalllen

    on 22 Nov 2010 03:00

    I saw all 3 episodes on public tv here in the U.S. I was reading Sherlock Holmes in the 1960's and have followed almost all the iterations since - this one is a FABULOUS. More, PLEASE, more.

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  • Comment number 230. Posted by TheWoman

    on 21 Nov 2010 02:29

    I was determined to hate this modern incarnation, but was proved wrong and am hungry for more! I feel very sad, however, that Jeremy Brett and the Granada series get such short shrift. I loved the Rathbone/Bruce films as a child, but hated that they had been brought into the 1940's. Within the first two minutes of seeing Granada's version of the canon, however, I knew that someone had finally 'gotten it right.' It's a shame that the creators of the current incarnation only see clothing and gaslight in the Granada series (they don't even seem to want to mention it), rather than the quality of the acting, and the reverence shown by Brett and the writers for the original stories, esp. in the first two seasons.

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  • Comment number 229. Posted by Veronica

    on 17 Nov 2010 14:49

    This was really great! Seemed to have some unnecessary mentionings though. Irrelevance brought in sideways that suggests Holmes redone is just a backdrop. Will continue to watch and wait for more. Doesn't matter to me just seems odd.

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