Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are a creative partnership that needs little introduction, but introduce them I should. Critical and commercial acclaim came their way in bucketloads with Sherlock, their modern BBC adaptation of fiction’s Greatest Detective, or at least fiction’s Greatest Detective who doesn’t wear a cape. Their latest dip into literary iconography though is a TV retelling of the eponymous vampire Dracula, set to begin its 3 episode run on New Year’s Day (in keeping with Sherlock tradition).
Speaking at the show’s premiere in London earlier this week, Moffat and Gatiss shed some light on the origins of the new adaptation, which actually owe a small debt to their Sherlock colleague Benedict Cumberbatch.
Gatiss recalls taking a photo of Cumberbatch while on the set of the BBC series and was struck by its resemblance to the only blood-sucking parasite to star in more than 60 feature films (people aren’t exactly lining up to see Tickman movies). When he joked about the vampiric-resemblance with BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson, Dracula’s latest screen ingress was born:
“I said, ‘It looks like Dracula, doesn’t it?’ and [Stephenson] said, ‘Do you wanna do it?’”
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His co-writer Moffat concurred about the new series’ blithe beginnings, saying:
“We talked about it as almost a jokey thing. We’d done Sherlock Holmes and the second most filmed character as we make our way down the list of plagiarism, was Dracula. As we talked about it, we started having ideas that we thought were quite good. It got to the point where we thought we should take this seriously.”
Seriously they’ve taken this indeed. From its humble roots we now have a brand new potential franchise in the making. And given that Sherlock appears to have entered a kind of cryogenic slumber, fans of the pair’s penmanship will be hoping Dracula is a similar small screen treat. Alternatively, you might want it to bomb so they can get back to writing Sherlock, but that seems a rather vindictive wish.
I’m also interested to note that it goes out on the same day as another of the two’s sacred sons. Doctor Who’s move to a New Year’s Day slot means we’ll see familiar faces on different benches at the start of the new decade. Settle into BBC One (or BBC America) on January 1st if you want to catch them both.