Martin Freeman is playing Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick Dr Watson in a new BBC1 series of the detective stories – and he’s determined to breathe new life into the role.

The Office actor, 37, stars in an adaptation which moves the action from the Victorian streets to modern-day England.

But Martin said he didn’t want to take too much notice of the likes of Nigel Stock, David Burke and Raymond Francis, all renowned Dr Watsons in the past.

“I think you can get into a lot of trouble if you try to hang your hat too much on what other people have done,” he said.

“It’s just not your job. Those people haven’t done this script. We’re not playing the novels, we’re not playing the films, we’re doing this script by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

“To know about the other stuff is interesting and helpful, but we can’t play that. All we can do is this. I’m just treating it like it’s a new script and no one’s ever heard of it before. That’s hard, because you have to say ‘Mr Holmes’ and things, and when that comes out of your mouth, you hear 120 years of history right there.”