Amanda Abbington Reveals Her Guest Role in ‘Sherlock’ Series 3

Counting the days until we're back at this address. (Photo: BBC)
Counting the days until we're back at this address. (Photo: BBC)
As Sherlock fans the world over wait for official word about when the acclaimed mystery series might make its way back to our television screens, we’re all becoming more and more desperate for the tiniest snippet of information that might let us know what we can expect to see from Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and company in the upcoming episodes. But, since filming on the new series has wrapped, there’s even less new information to go on than there was previously, and the production crew seem to be playing things as close to the vest as possible to preserve the surprises of Series 3 for fans. Which, we can all agree, is wonderful, but it doesn’t feel that great whilst we’re in the midst of our own version of the Great Hiatus.

However, one bit of news has cropped up that seems worth sharing. Most of you know that the BBC confirmed back in March that Freeman’s real-life romantic partner (and  Mr. Selfridge star) Amanda Abbington would be joining Sherlock Series 3 as an unidentified character who ““significantly impacts…the lives of John and Sherlock”. 

Well, now we know who Abbington’s playing for sure – straight from the horse’s mouth. 

The rumors have been flying ever since Abbington’s casting was announced that she was set to play Mary Morstan, love interest and eventual wife of John Watson. Given her off-screen relationship with Freeman, as well as the fact that one of this season’s episodes is ostensibly based on The Sign of Four, which is the story in which Morstan first appears, these rumors seemed pretty logical.  But, as with an kind of internet rumor, it’s always safe to take such things with a grain of salt.

However, that admonition turned out to be rather unnecessary this time, as the rumors would appear to be completely, 100% true.

Abbington herself confirmed her role as Mary Morstan in a recent interview with The Scotsman, describing her as a “great character” who “has some fantastic secrets”.    

Abbington is full of nothing but praise for her new co-stars Cumberbatch and Freeman.  “I remember doing a scene very early on with Martin and Ben,” she said. “And I was standing in between them and I thought ‘I really have to up my game, this is proper’. They really bounce off each other.”

“When I was at the read-through, I remember watching them, and the chemistry between them is just amazing,” she continued. “They do have this beautiful relationship, so getting in between that – which is what Mary does, she becomes this kind of third wheel – was scary. Also, the fans love these two together, so I’m sure Mary won’t be particularly liked by them, but I hope that on the whole people really like her, because she’s a great character and she has some fantastic secrets.”

The “fantastic secrets” bit should be enough to get the internet rumor mill buzzing again as we all start racking our brains as to what that could mean. To be honest, there’s not a tremendous amount to go on based on the Mary Morstan from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, as she doesn’t do a great amount in her own right, besides be a governess, have a father whose disappearance is related to the mystery in The Sign of Four, marry Watson and die (and the particulars of her death are never even revealed in the canon).  Thus, there’s a lot of space to work with as far as her character goes. And we all know that creator Steven Moffat, in particular, loves to shock fans with unexpected twists, so basically anything is possible.

Is she some sort of secret agent sent to get to Watson? Is she related to Sebastian Moran? Is she Sebastian Moran? Is she a criminal? A former MI-5 agent? Is Mary Morstan a stolen identity? Does she have some unknown connection to the new villain arriving this season? Who knows. It really could be anything, but it seems safe to assume that Mary will be much more than a background character in this version of the Holmes stories.  

Though Sherlock Series 3 finished filming back in August, we’re still no closer to finding out when the drama’s highly anticipated third series might actually air, on either side of the pond. The smart money’s probably on a UK airdate of some time around Christmas or New Year’s, with an American transmission to follow in 2014. Total speculation, but it makes a certain amount of sense, so keep it in the back of your mind.  If you need an immediate fix, the latest behind the scenes photos and the Series 3 teaser trailer are small comfort, but work in a pinch.

Thoughts? Are you pleased to see Mary Morstan entering the picture this season? What do you think her “fantastic secrets” might be? Wow us with your theories! 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB