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How we’re shaping Sherlock into the world’s biggest live mind game

Jo Pearce

Creative Digital Director, BBC Wales

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It’s something we’ve never tried before – the first of its kind – and keen eyes and ears around the world will be waiting in anticipation to interact with the great detective himself. Tonight’s #SherlockLive promises to be an adrenalin-pumping rollercoaster ride for more than just the fans enjoying it!

At 8pm, fans of BBC One’s famously eccentric detective will get the chance to solve a live and exclusive 30-minute Sherlock case on BBC One Twitter and bbc.co.uk/sherlock. In a BBC drama first, Sherlock writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will be tweeting live as Sherlock Holmes, interacting directly with the audience as they help to solve the case. Audiences will pit their wits against the world’s finest sleuth as they use their powers of deduction to take part in their very own moment of BBC Pure Drama.

At BBC Wales’ digital drama team, we’re used to creating interactive experiences for drama fans, but this takes things to a whole new level. We’ve never before had the co-creators putting their brilliant brains together live in front of the whole world.  These masters of character creation will join writer Joe Lidster, who’s dreamed up tonight’s plot, fully aware this could take off in any direction. Exciting? Yes. Terrifying? Absolutely – in a good way.

It’s an idea we’ve had for some time – I’ve just been waiting for the right opportunity to try it out. What could be better than bringing together sheer genius and testing Sherlock against the rest of the world? Sherlock Holmes’ unique style of deduction offers a fascinating format to play with, and social media means anything’s possible.

Sian Davies, who has spent the past month producing this, spent hours working with Joe and the Senior Producer Alice Rothwell to work out the painstaking structure of the script. Christmas was put on hold for us, as we worked non-stop to make sure we went live before episode three goes out on Sunday. What exactly could we achieve in approximately 30 minutes? What would give us enough depth for everyone to be stretched, while keeping it entertaining? Don’t forget, Sherlock Holmes is notorious for being easily bored.

When I approached Steven and Mark with the idea, with Hartswood Films’ Series Producer Sue Vertue, they swiftly saw the chance to have some real fun with this. For them, it’s also a chance for Sherlock Holmes to show his true character as he responds to the tweets that interest him. We don’t know what people will ask and we have no idea yet how he’ll respond.

We do know the demand for more Sherlock is sky high. We also know people want to test themselves and compete with him – but he’s the world’s most brilliant mind, so can they come anywhere near? We’ll find out tonight.

  • #SherlockLive is a exclusive Sherlock case specially written for @BBCOne. It will be available to follow as a live blog on bbc.co.uk/sherlock from 8pm on Tuesday 10 January.
  • It is written by Joe Lidster and produced in conjunction with Hartswood Films. It is made by BBC Wales.

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