Sherlock has succeeded in bringing back 'appointment television', but the BBC shouldn't spoil it by patronising audiences

Why couldn't the Beeb leave it to us to spot the show's final twist?


The latest series of Sherlock on BBC1 ended with a typically intricate, quick-fire and classy episode. But I could barely believe my ears at the end, when an idiotic BBC announcer interrupted to say: “Now, the thing is with Sherlock, you need to watch right to the very end of the credits or you’ll miss something.”

Gosh, suddenly BBC1 has turned into CBeebies. Please, patronise us some more. Why didn’t you interrupt earlier to say “Now the thing is with Sherlock, he may not necessarily have died. Watch carefully in five minutes time.”

Sure enough there was indeed a surprise right at the very end of the credits; but did it need such a sledgehammer reminder to keep watching, neatly killing any suspension of disbelief at the same time?

Those of us who managed to sit through the 30 seconds of credits would have enjoyed the excellent surprise. Those who switched off or over would have learned from friends the next day that they had missed a surprise, and marvelled even more at the originality of the series. The end of credits surprise would have made the perfect water-cooler moment the next morning.

And that’s the more important aspect of Sherlock. It has succeeded in bringing back the water-cooler moment. Because of its complexity, humour and intricate plotting, there is always much to discuss the next day. That’s noteworthy as we have been told so many times in the last couple of decades that the water-cooler moments had vanished. We would all be watching different things, on different channels, at different times, on different platforms.

Thankfully, a series like Sherlock has disproved that gloomy prediction. Put on something that is classy and challenging, and it becomes in that almost forgotten phrase “appointment television.” We feel we can’t afford to miss it on its first broadcast, and we want to talk about it the next day. The BBC has revived a great cultural tradition, that of making television a national shared event, a communal experience which brings viewers together.

What a pity that it almost spoiled the achievement by treating the audience like children and doubting its ability to concentrate for an extra half a minute. Let’s hope it isn’t so crass in the next series. And let’s hope that will be soon. The health of the nation is enhanced by the shared television experience giving us something to talk about the next day. Breaking Bad, Broadchurch and Sherlock all achieved that, even if the last had to come with a gauche announcer who Sherlock himself would have given short shrift.

Leo's comic turn on Wall Street

The Golden Globes, awarded in Los Angeles last Sunday, bizarrely split up the film awards into best film drama and best film comedy or musical, and even more bizarrely gave Leonardo DiCaprio best actor in a comedy award for Scorsese’s not terribly comic The Wolf of Wall Street. These artificial distinctions make second class citizens of comedy and musicals. It’s all cinema, and the acting skills demanded are as great in one genre as another. What is particularly strange is that the Golden Globes, unlike the Oscars, are decided by film critics. If film critics don’t realise this, then perhaps they’re in the wrong job.

Dirty business at the BAFTAs

Meanwhile, the big British film awards, the BAFTAs will have a different problem at their ceremony at the Royal Opera House next month. Cleaners at the ROH, paid £7 an hour, are to strike on the night over low pay. They want their pay increased to the London Living Wage of £8.80 an hour. They have accused the ROH management of “washing their hands of the matter”, an unintentionally suitable, hygienic metaphor. Will this be the awards ceremony where Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren, DiCaprio and the rest show their left-wing credentials and proclaim support from the stage? Perhaps they will drop litter on the red carpet in solidarity.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A still from the BBC's new rap about the outbreak of WW1  

Why give the young such a bad rap?

David Lister
Israeli army soldiers take their positions  

Errors and Omissions: Some news reports don’t quite hit the right target

Guy Keleny
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice