Is #Setlock good for Sherlock?

Benedict Martin

Written by Stephanie Bell

Imagine you are at work, sitting at your desk, putting the finishing touches on an important presentation you will give to a client. You are concentrating; trying to find just the right words to clinch a deal that will provide your company with revenue and create new jobs. There is a lot riding on the success of your work.

Now imagine that there is a crowd of people standing near your office, watching your every move and facial expression as you complete your project. Some of them are taking pictures of you and posting them on their social media pages, critiquing your efforts. Others engage in conversations while frequently glancing in your direction, breaking your concentration as you try to capture a fleeting thought and put it into words.

Over the last few years as Sherlock’s popularity has sky-rocketed, the crowds of onlookers present during location shoots have also grown. While the cast and crew of Sherlock recently filmed scenes for the 2015 Christmas special, there were throngs of fans behind the crash barriers trying to get a look at the actors. At times, members of the crew opened umbrellas to block the spectators’ view. In a recent interview with The Independent to promote the BBC’s The Eichmann Show, Martin Freeman shared his frustration at trying to play John Watson with crowds of people watching. He compared it to trying to act at a red carpet event.

Many might argue that the popularity of Sherlock is one of the reasons it exists—without the fans, there wouldn’t be a show. Second, aren’t the actors used to performing in front of crowds? Freeman recently played Richard III on stage to rave reviews and Benedict Cumberbatch will play Hamlet this summer at London’s Barbican (the three-month run sold out in minutes). Besides, isn’t a thirst for recognition one of the reasons they became actors in the first place?

Yet, perhaps surprisingly, many Sherlock fans believe ‘#Setlock’ (the hashtag used when fans post their behind-the-scenes photos online) is bad for the show. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of those who responded to a recent Radio Times poll said fans should stay away from locations when filming is taking place. Maybe they were swayed by an admission made by Mark Gatiss. On top of Martin Freeman’s comments, the Sherlock co-creator has said that #Setlock has influenced the show’s creative direction. What if a brilliant new storyline had to be scrapped because the fans’ presence would make filming too difficult?

It is the privilege of Sherlock’s fans to peacefully convene and get to see the show in the making, as long as they are not interfering with the cast and crew’s work. Considering Freeman’s and Gatiss’ recent comments about #Setlock and its effect on the show, however, fans thinking of going to the set may want to put themselves in Cumberbatch’s or Freeman’s shoes and truly consider if their presence helps or hurts the show they love, and decide accordingly.


What are your thoughts on #Setlock? Let us know in the comments below!


9 thoughts on “Is #Setlock good for Sherlock?

  1. Absolutely…let the guys do their magic. They get paid to act, not fight off throngs of fans just to get their work done. I feel for the security people, etc., they probably have to hire just to keep peace. The cast need not be limited to working in a sound stage. Being out and about on site is what enlivens the show…and lets the audience appreciate aspects of the locations at their best. ~ Blessings! 🙂


  2. Perhaps a way around this is to promise a mini press conference at the end of the day’s filming where Cumberbatch and Freeman will each answer 3 of the fans’ questions from an online repository of questions written in (lowering the mania of raising hands to ask questions). As long as the fans stay at bay until the end of the day’s filming is completed. Give them a reward for behaving. They’d have to be kept further away and be fine with that. Total press conf time could be 30 mins. An extra plus if they stay in costume, although I’m sure the fans want to see their typical everyday personal wardrobe choices, too. 🙂


  3. Add curtains to the barriers?

    I can completely sympathize, people should respect the actors’ need to concentrate. Filming a scene is NOT the same as playing a part onstage. At the same time, the reality is, people will throng wherever a camera appears, so this problem is not going to go away.


  4. Couldn’t they make access to the relevant street ‘residents only’ while they’re filming? The idea that they have to limit the number of outdoor scenes and possibly create an inferior product (not the show they would really like to create) makes me feel sorry for the whole cast and crew.


  5. I can understand why people want to go watch their favourite stars and I can see why it is very uncomfortable for the actors but if they don’t want crowds at setlock members of the setlock crew shouldn’t publish the other locations on Twitter such as Bristol and Glostershire. I know the other places are unavoidable such as the cafe and things because it’s public knowledge were they are located. (I have never being to setlock though so maybe I’m not the best judge)


  6. Great thought post Stephanie. I think people forget that the show began as a vanity project for Moffat and Gatiss. Plus, even if the show skyrocketed Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s career these two guys are great actors and were never in need of work. On top of that, to preserve the quality of the show, they never make more then 3 a series. For me that leads me to believe that even with the popularity, if the creators get tired and frustrated by the fans, they can up and stop making them and will be just fine moving on. Fandom is a double edged sword in their world. On the one hand, they know that without it, they wouldn’t have been able to get to a point in their careers where they could undertake a vanity project, on the other it can turn something as simple and pure as a story they wanted to tell and see for themselves into a headache. All in all, if people want to see more of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories re- imagined by this particular group of creators, more people should be against #setlock.


  7. That’s kind of funny because I held the exact same thought a few days ago : how uncomfortable I would feel if people where watching and commenting my every move while at work. I think I would go crazy, unable to concentrate on what I am supposed to do.

    I can understand that when you’re fan of a show you want to be as as close to its making as possible, to see the actors you admire and just show you enthusiasm this way but I also think that if you truly love that show and respects its cast and crew you should let them work in peace.


  8. In my opinion, I want to see more out of this talented group. I can look online all I want at the latest photos and info about the series. I don’t have this “need” to be in the thick of the action. As a fan, I go to comic book conventions if I know an artist, writer or actor will be there, so I can meet them, get a photo op or an autograph, or listen to them speak on a panel. However, they are public figures, filming in public locations and I’ll bet that a lot of people show up out of curiosity as well. It’s a gratifying problem to have such a strong fan base that is still growing and I, for one, hope they will continue to make as many of these episodes as possible, as Sherlock Holmes is my favorite fictional character and what they’ve created to this point, has been brilliant and an absolute pleasure to watch. There has never been a better time than now for all the fans who love the sci-fi, superhero and literary characters being brought to movies and TV shows. For me, I’m a kid in a candy store right now…with a pocket full of spending money !


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