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Cumberbatch: Sherlock is a human trying to be superhuman

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch on the psyche of the mercurial sleuth he plays

The wait is almost over. Sherlock will be back in two days' time.

Season 4 of the British drama is said to be much darker than the last season, and it promises tears, laughter, shocks, surprises and extraordinary adventures.

Said co-creators, writers and executive producers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss: "Ghosts of the past are rising in the lives of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, and terror and tragedy are looming.

"This is the story we've been telling from the beginning, and it's about to reach its climax."

Benedict Cumberbatch returns as the mercurial sleuth along with Martin Freeman as dedicated partner John Watson, who is preparing for his biggest challenge ever - becoming a father.

The first episode​ ​of​ ​Sherlock Season 4 will be available on BBC Player from Monday, right after it airs on BBC One in the United Kingdom. It will be available on BBC First (StarHub Ch 522) within 24 hours.

Here, Cumberbatch, 40, gives an update on what to expect in the new season, working with babies and Sherlock's appeal.

Sherlock Holmes (centre), John Watson (right) and wife Mary (left) welcome a child in the fourth season of Sherlock. PHOTOS: REUTERS, BBC

How do we find Sherlock, John and Mary (Watson) at the start of Season 4?

There are a lot of new things going on, for example, there is a baby.

So parenting responsibilities have kicked in for the super sleuths. Childcare is never easy, but it gets even more complicated when crime is involved.

John and Mary (Amanda Abbington) are new parents, how does Sherlock feel about that?

I think Sherlock feels very protective towards them as a family, but he is not a natural or a figure of authority when it comes to a newborn.

I hope my skills and interaction with my own (son) are a little bit more engaged than his are.

He is seemingly indifferent, which is comic at times, but it is all underpinned with a deep love, and he is a guardian angel really.

They say never work with children or animals, yet here you work with both. How did you find it?

We had an interesting dog in the first episode. He was sweet but was a bit afraid of being in the centre of town, afraid of too many people and not great on hard surfaces.

We were in 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.

The babies have been pretty amazing. I am a father, and I know how difficult it is to get anything in tune with a baby's schedule. It keeps you in the moment. I love those elements that make it more difficult.

What is so appealing about playing the character of Sherlock?

Whatever scale I am working on as an actor, it is about telling interesting stories and just losing myself in an experience.

There is a degree of comfort in coming back to something you know.

It is nice getting the band back together and playing certain aspects of him.

I don't return to roles very much, even this has only been 12 episodes and one special so far; we haven't made that many.

The final rendering of what we produce is very filmic and very high quality, and that's saying something because it is not only low budget when it comes to what designers in every department have to work with in comparison to a big film, but it is also the amount of time we have to perfect it in.

How much of Sherlock's temperament is driven by the apparent inadequacies of others rather than his own desire for perfection?

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 civilisation is a huge distraction to this man, who has to think on an unparallelled level of complexities.

It is not really that the world is stupid; it is 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 is right in front of him.

So it is a complex relationship he has with the world.

He needs it to be that way in order to conquer it, but at the same time, the way he engages with it often blinds him to the most obvious.

That's great from a story point of view because people don't see things because he doesn't see them.

His stupidity is also the world's brilliance, which is why there are things, people, and events which overtake him.

He is not unhuman; he is human, and he is fallible.

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