Benedict Cumberbatch Talks 'Sherlock' Season 4, Working With Babies

'Sherlock' season 4 episode 1 still H 2016
Courtesy of BBC

The detective he plays "is human and trying to be superhuman," and "the amount of stuff that we call polite civilization is a huge distraction" to him, says the star.

BBC hit drama Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, is set to return for its fourth season Jan. 1 in the U.K. and on PBS in the U.S.

But ahead of the holidays, the BBC has released new materials about the season, consisting of three feature-length episodes produced by Hartswood Films, saying it "begins with the nation’s favorite detective, the mercurial Sherlock Holmes, back once more on British soil as Doctor Watson and his wife, Mary, prepare for their biggest ever challenge — becoming parents for the first time."

Among the materials is a brief Q&A with Cumberbatch, in which he said about Season Four: "There are a lot of new things going on, for example there’s a baby! So parenting responsibilities have kicked in for the super sleuths! Child care is never easy, but it gets even more complicated when crime’s involved."

Asked how Sherlock feels about Doctor Watson (Freeman), wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) and their baby, Cumberbatch said: "I think Sherlock feels very protective toward them as a family, but he’s not a natural or a figure of authority when it comes to a newborn." And he added: "I hope my skills and interaction with my own are a little bit more engaged than his are! He’s seemingly indifferent, which is comic at times but it’s all underpinned with a deep love, and he’s a guardian angel really."

How was it working with babies? "The babies have been pretty amazing, I’m a father and I know how difficult it is to get anything in tune with a baby’s schedule," Cumberbatch said. "It keeps you in the moment and it stops you being precious about your work. I love those elements that make it more difficult."

Cumberbatch also discussed working with "an interesting dog" in the new season. "He was very sweet, but was a bit afraid of being in the center of town, afraid of too many people and not great on hard surfaces," he quipped. "We were in [London's] Borough Market, with lots of people around, on concrete and tarmac. Cut to Amanda literally pulling a bloodhound around London who was supposed to pull her around London. That was fun."

Cumberbatch in the BBC materials was also asked: How much of Sherlock’s temperament is driven by the apparent inadequacies of others rather than his own desire for perfection?

He responded: "Oddly, I think Sherlock’s temperament is more shaped by the fact that he is human and trying to be superhuman. The amount of stuff that we call polite civilization is a huge distraction to this man who has to think on an unparalleled level of complexities."

Concluded the star: "It’s not really that the world is stupid it’s just that for him to be clever he has to really drown out a lot of noise and what he permanently gets surprised by, and what I think is his real weakness, is sometimes not seeing what’s right in front of him.... He’s not unhuman, he is human and he is fallible."