Just a few days’ time will see Sherlock making a long-awaited return with “The Six Thatchers,” but fans still feel a certain unease with Season 4's air of finality. We’ve heard Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat weighing in, and now star and writer Mark Gatiss says Sherlock could run another decade … but probably won’t.

Speaking to TVLine, Gatiss admitted “we honestly don’t know” if Season 4 could mark the end of the series, though scheduling might have finally reached the point of no return, given all the careers involved. Additionally, it’s worth looking back on other classic series that have had abbreviated runs over the years:

These three [episodes], we’ve very, very pleased with them. And everybody’s very keen to carry on. It’s just genuinely difficult to schedule everyone’s diaries. It was a nightmare to schedule this season… and that’s not going to go away. I mean, the success of Doctor Strange is not going to make Benedict short of work. […]

We certainly don’t want to wave goodbye to something like that lightly … there is a great precedent for leaving well alone. [The classic UK sitcom] Fawlty Towers is twelve episodes, with four years apart. And it’s perfect.

Still, Gatiss at least offered his hope that Cumberbatch and Freeman could play the roles long enough to match the ages of some of the classic live-action potrayers, which might give Cumberbatch another 14 years to age up to Basil Rathbone:

Right at the beginning, we said, wouldn’t it be fun — because we start with the first meeting, which is very rarely dramatized — if we actually ended up with them at the same age as Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce? That would be a really interesting place to be with Benedict and Martin, having started so early in their careers as young men.

In the meantime, so reads the first official synopsis for January 1 return “The Six Thatchers,” itself an update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons.”

In episode one of this new series, written by Mark Gatiss, Sherlock waits to see where Moriarty will make his posthumous move.

One mysterious case in particular baffles Scotland Yard - but Sherlock is more interested in a seemingly-trivial detail. Why is someone destroying images of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? Is there a madman on the loose? Or is there a much darker purpose at work? Something with its roots deep in Mary Watson’s past…

Benedict Cumberbatch returns as Sherlock Holmes, with Martin Freeman as John Watson, Mark Gatiss as Mycroft, Rupert Graves as Inspector Lestrade, Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson, Amanda Abbington as Mary Watson and Louise Brealey as Molly Hooper.

“The Six Thatchers” was directed by Doctor Who and The Flash director Rachel Talalay. While we wait, watch the newest Sherlock Season 4 trailer below, and stay tuned for more.

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