Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return to BBC One in Sherlock

Interview with Mark Gatiss

Category: BBC One; Drama

"We're very excited about the new series, says Mark Gatiss and the choice of three stories fell quite naturally into place. The obvious follow-up was to cover the three most famous Conan Doyle books and I'm really thrilled with them, I have to say."

Known to viewers as Mycroft, Sherlock's steely, mysterious older brother, Mark is also responsible for writing this series' episode two, The Hounds Of Baskerville, arguably, Conan Doyle's most famous book, Mark discusses setting about updating such a classic.

"My idea for Baskerville was, as ever, to look for the 'modern'. So rather than setting it in a spooky old house, I wanted to find the sort of thing that frightens us today. We're still a very credulous species but we tend to be more afraid of secret goings-on and conspiracy theories. So I thought, what about a scary weapons research place out on Dartmoor? Where secret animal experimentation or something similarly terrible was taking place."

"The reputation of the story was obviously a challenge", says Mark, "it's the most famous and best-loved of them all. No pressure! At its heart, though, it's a horror story and horror is a big part of the appeal of Sherlock Holmes. I wanted to make it the scariest version there's ever been. Trying to work that out almost killed me!"

Mark, a lifelong Conan Doyle fan, sheds some light on what he thinks it is that appeals to people about Sherlock

"He's a mass of contradictions and that makes him fascinating. He's cold, aloof, arrogant, dangerous, therefore, absolutely magnetically attractive. It works in real life as well, but ultimately people would not remember Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson if Conan Doyle had not been a genius writer, what he created was pure gold. It's precisely because of those things that we love them."

With viewing figures of over nine million and having sold in over 180 countries worldwide, it's fair to say Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, have introduced a whole new audience to Sherlock Holmes.

Mark says: "The most wonderful and moving thing that happened to me throughout the whole series, was getting a letter from a woman whose son was profoundly dyslexic, who had never read a book in his life and he's now read all of the Conan Doyle books. The entire canon of Sherlock Holmes is fantastic and sales of the old stories have gone up and I couldn't think of anything more brilliant than for people to be pointed back towards Doyle, who is the well spring of all of this. And still a criminally under-rated genius writer."