Sherlock season 4 air dates revealed: Cumberbatch 'end of era' comment confirms it's last season?

Benedict Cumberbatch says he'd love to return as Sherlock in the future.

Sherlock season 4

The air dates for the highly anticipated fourth season of 'Sherlock' TV series, has been released by BBC1. Season 4 will have three episodes like the earlier seasons, the first of which would air on 1 stJanuary, 2017.

RadioTimes has received confirmation that the three episodes, namely 'The Six Thatchers,' 'The Lying Detective' and the as yet untitled final episode, will air on 1 Januray, 8 January and 15 January, respectively. All of the dates fall on Sundays, which has remained the tradition with the series.

However, amid all the excitement, an eventuality looms over the announcement; this might be the last season of the much loved reimagining of Conan Doyle's sleuth.

In an interview with GQ UK magazine, actor Benedict Cumberbatch said on the subject of Sherlock, "It might be the end of an era." He expanded on what he meant by saying "It feels like the end of an era, to be honest. It goes to a place where it will be pretty hard to follow on immediately." Well, Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss had hinted that the fourth season will be the darkest; that there will be consequences for the major players.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly (EW), in March, last year, Steven Moffat said "[Season 4] is going to be... I suppose you'd say... consequences. It's consequences. Chickens come to roost." Co-creator Mark Gatiss, who also plays Sherlock's elder brother Mycroft in the series, had also told, earlier, "You can always expect tragedy as well as adventure, that's just how it goes."

On being asked by GQ, whether Cumberbatch would ever return to the world of Sherlock Holmes, he aid "We never say never on the show. I'd love to revisit it, I'd love to keep revisiting it, I stand by that, but in the immediate future we all have things that we want to crack on with and we've made something very complete as it is, so I think we'll just wait and see. The idea of never playing him again is really galling."

As for the three stories, 'The Six Thatchers' is based on Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short story 'The Adventure of the Six Napoleons.' The first is about a thief who likes to steal and destroy busts of the French emperor Napoleon, or in this case, busts of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. There is a murder, the mystery of Moriarty's return is to be solved and somehow it is connected with Mary Watson's past.

The second episode is based on the short story 'The Dying Detective,' which sees Holmes apparently dying from a deadly disease. This is the story that features the villain Mr. Culverton Smith, who will be played by distinguished English stage and film actor Toby Jones.

The final, untitled episode, as rumours suggest, will introduce the third Holmes brother, Sherringford. Though fans want Tom Hiddleston to be cast in the part, no confirmation has been made. Apart from Cumberbatch, season sees returning cast members like Martin freeman, Amanda Abbington, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Rupert Graves and Una Stubbs. Actor Lindsay Duncan is also joining the cast. Watch the teaser here.

This article was first published on December 8, 2016