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Sherlock and Watson go old-school in first preview of Christmas Special

BBC’s Sherlock has become a Primetime Emmy darling, earning almost 30 nominations and seven wins over just three seasons in addition to a long list of other prestigious awards for its cast and creative team. As is traditional with BBC projects, the hit series returns later this year for a Christmas Special that — according to a new promotional image and clip released this week — brings the series back in time from its modern setting to Victorian London.

Fortunately, the change in era appears to have done little to change the personalities (quirks and all) of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman’s Dr. John Watson, who find themselves investigating yet another seemingly unsolvable case in their own inimitable manner.

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The new promotional image (see in full below) for Sherlock was released earlier this week ahead of the official kickoff to Comic-Con International in San Diego, and it was soon followed by a short clip from the upcoming Christmas Special. Featuring the famous residents of 221B Baker Street in the anachronistic garb associated with Sherlock Holmes’ original adventures, the image prompted much speculation about the setting of the Christmas Special — and some of those rumors were confirmed in the first clip from the episode, which clearly unfolds in Victorian-era London.

“The first few days we were just so excited because we saw our show with Benedict and Martin in the proper gear and his extraordinary sideburns and you think ‘Why didn’t we always do this? Why did we make that silly mistake of updating it?'” series co-creator Steven Moffatt told UK Express after the clip’s debut. “But by the end we slightly missed the modern iteration. Maybe we’ll just alternate them all. Mark [Gatiss, co-creator] and I think we should do the 1940’s propaganda German version.”

Co-written by Moffat and Gatiss, the Christmas Special does not have a specific broadcast date at this point, but will likely premiere in December. The fourth season of Sherlock is expected to go into production in 2016, and continue the now-traditional format of three 90-minute episodes each season.

The most recent Sherlock earned Cumberbatch and Freeman a pair of Emmy Awards as the year’s best “Lead Actor” and “Supporting Actor,” respectively.

“We’ve got a clear idea of what we’re going to do and it’s going to be a clear shift in tone,” said Moffat of what to expect in the next season. “Yes, there’s going to be some dark stuff coming but there always is. There always fun and jokes and detection and all that nonsense. It’s dark in some ways – obviously it’s great fun and a Sherlock Holmes romp and all that – but there’s a sense of things coming back to bite you.”