Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes in a new BBC1 drama (Sunday, July 25) created by Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat and League of Gentleman star Mark Gatiss…

In this version, the genius sleuth chases criminals in modern day London using both his brilliant mind and today’s technology. Here, Benedict tells What’s On TV what it’s been like to give such a famous character a modern twist…

How are we introduced to Sherlock Holmes in the first episode of this new three-part series?
“We’re introduced to him through the eyes of Watson, played by The Office’s Martin Freeman, who is an army doctor recently returned from Afghanistan. He’s trying to adapt himself to civilian life and looking for someone to flat share, which is true to the original book, Study in Scarlet. All three stories are told from Watson’s perspective.”

How does Sherlock as we know him fit into the modern world?
“It’s been so much fun! It’s respectful of the original. Yet there’s been a huge scope for reinvention of this icon. He was a very modern man in the Victorian era so there’s no reason he can’t be a modern man in the present, too. It’s a daring but vital thing to bring him into the 21st Century.”

As a maverick detective, how does Sherlock deal with strict modern police procedures?
“He cuts through the bureaucracy, health and safety and red tape! It’s very irritating for Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and everybody else! Technology and forensics, however, aid Sherlock. Once he’s used his extraordinary abilities to deduce the facts he uses forensic science and multi-media technology. But he’s still fallible and gets it wrong sometimes – which can get him into trouble.”

Is he insensitive to other people?
“He can be disarmingly honest with no thought for the consequences of someone’s feelings. He’s very direct and often unintentionally rude, which is amusing for an audience!”

Will we see iconic Sherlock Holmes details?
“I can safely say he doesn’t have a deerstalker hat or a pipe, but we have an equivalent. I don’t want to reveal too much but lots of boxes will be ticked for fans and purists.”

What preparation did you do for the role?
“I learned to play the violin for a bit. But because Sherlock isn’t a virtuoso and I wasn’t any good at it, I got to make a terrible racket!”

How would you describe his relationship with Dr John Watson?
“The friendship develops over the course of the three films. They’re bonded for life by the end – they’re even tied together physically at some point!”

How action-packed is the series?
“There’s lots of action. We have chase scenes, we have gunfights, I have Kung Fu sequences, and Martin and I have quite a few jumps and stunts. I have a fight with a Chinese warlord, I shoot at a human giant who strangles people with his bare hands, and I run after a taxicab… without giving too much away!”