Production Project 1 research assignment: BBC’s Sherlock




  • Effective transmedia has to be justified by the story
  • Transmedia writers must be part of the project early on, even if the anchor text is the only text set to be consumed by most of the audience
  • Characters have to remain consistent across media
  • The question of co-construction and how much, if any, interactivity will be present in some of the platforms


summary by Simon Gilberg s3379761

Holmes in the Small Screen
The Television Contexts of Sherlock
Tom Steward

‘In the flexi- narrative format, showrunners maintain larger, framing narrative arcs while writers work on stand-alone episodes, as was certainly the case with Sherlock’s first season, as Gatiss and Moffat wrote the first and last episode.’

This quote reflects a long-established and strengthening idea surrounding the role of writers on TV series as producers, or showrunners, ultimately in charge of the intellectual property and guiding its form and narrative development throughout its production. This includes having a large amount of creative control over the crew involved, including other writers, and also who is cast.

In most cases, while these showrunners will maintain overall control of the show, they will often ask other writers to come in and fill in much of the series, the showrunners content in designing the overall narrative arc, perhaps running over one series or season, or the entirety of the programme.

This is also applicable to the topic of transmedia as bringing in other writers to write transmedia content is highly likely, as is the case with Sherlock. That said, the showrunners do maintain an overall control of the story and integrate into their story world. This control from above allows them to see the big picture, and to maintain consistency throughout the platforms.

However, one question raised is how audience interaction can impact this process. Already, despite its closed-off, “official” approach, Sherlock has incorporated fan content, at least in the sense of fan theories. How does the relationship with a showrunner, or in this case, a storyrunner, change when the audience is given power over the narrative, or attempts to influence it?


summary by Mar Barboa s3379918

‘The Literary, Televisual and Digital Adventures of the Beloved Detectivefrom Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series

(Busse & Stein, 2012)

In the introduction to the their book, Busse and Stein introduce the discussion of the transmedia nature of the BBC’s Sherlock. Referencing the original stories by Conan Doyle, they explore the evolution of the famous detective throughout the multiple adaptations of his adventures – specifically his reinvention as a man of the digital age in Sherlock.

Busse and Stein argue that the show recasts Sherlock Holmes as a “millennial thinker”. He is a modern man, comfortable with technology. Yet, he remains recognizable through the inclusion of cultural references and meaning that have become iconic of the character (the deerstalker, the violin, the pipe).

By analyzing the transmedia characteristic of the show’s narrative, Busse and Stein raise issues about what constitutes a transmedia extension. They put into question Henry Jenkins definition of transmedia, and subsequently ask whether a revision that allows non-official content to be considered part of the narrative thread is necessary.

The authors mention examples of what they call “fan-instigated transmedia”, including a Japanese manga that continues the adventures of Sherlock and John in a different media platform. They argue that such texts could very well be considered transmedia branches from the story of Sherlock, despite the fact that they exist outside the BBC’s jurisdiction.



Busse, L &Stein, L 2012, ‘Introduction: The Literary, Televisual and Digital Adventures of the Beloved Detective’ in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series, e-book, accessed 27 March 2014, <;.

Christy, D 2014, ‘A Primer On Transmedia & Design’, lecture commissioned by RMIT

Denham, J 2014, ‘Sherlock series 3: Fans react on Twitter’, The Independent 02 January, available at, accessed on 18 March 2012

Evans, EJ 2012, ‘Shaping Sherlocks – Institutional Practice and the Adaptation of Character’, in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series, McFarland & Company, Inc., North Carolina, pp. 102-117.

Harvey, CB 2012 ‘Sherlock’s Webs – What the Detective Remembered from the Doctor About Transmediality’, in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series, McFarland & Company, Inc., North Carolina, p. 118.

Hills, M 2012, ‘Sherlock’s Epistemological Economy and the Value of “Fan” Knowledge – How Producer-Fans Play the (Great) Game of Fandom in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series, e-book, accessed 21 March 2014, <;.

Polasek, AD 2013, ‘Surveying the Post-Millennial Sherlock Holmes: A Case for the Great Detective as a Man of Our Times’, Adaptation, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 384–393.

Polasek, A 2012, ‘Winning “The Grand Game” – Sherlock and the Fragmentation of Fan Discourse in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series, e-book, accessed 21 March 2014, <;.

Poore, B 2013 ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Leap of Faith: The Forces of Fandom and Convergence in Adaptations of the Holmes and Watson Series’, Adaptation, Transmedia Storytelling and Participatory Culture, vol.6 no.2, pp. 159-171. Available from: Oxford Journals, accessed 24 March 2014.

Stewart, T 2012, ‘Holmes in the Small Screen – The Television Contexts of Sherlock’, in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series, McFarland & Company, Inc., North Carolina, p. 140.




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