Sherlock Holmes was recently confirmed as the most oft-depicted character in television history.
And with memories of Enola Holmes, Elementary and Sherlock still strong, it’s a bold move to build any new series around the Baker Street sleuth.
It’s even bolder to make a show in his world, and hardly see him for the first hour.
But that’s just what happens in Netflix's new Victorian supernatural series The Irregulars, which sees Dr John Watson (Royce Pierrson) recruit a motley gang of street urchins to help solve mysterious crimes and spooky goings on in the London underworld.
Led by fiery 17-year-old Bea played by Thaddea Graham, the charismatic Irish actress who lit up David Nicholls’ fantastic Us last year, The Irregulars is kind of like Smallville or Buffy crossed with Oliver Twist.
The idea is a supernatural twist based on Sherlock's occasional gang of young helpers from the Conan Doyle novels.
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Watch a trailer for The Irregulars
It’s great fun and with a strong supporting cast of mostly grumpy adults surrounding the central gang which also includes Darci Shaw as Bea’s fragile sister Jessi, Jojo Macari as teen scrapper Billy, McKell David as wisecracking Spike and Harrison Osterfield as itinerant royal Prince Leopold.
Royce Piereson stars as lead adult Dr Watson, while in the background lurks Holmes himself, played by Henry Lloyd-Hughes.
The ever stunning Clarke Peters from The Wire, Chernobyl’s Alex Ferns, and Game of Thrones warrior Rory McCann all guest star as some of the adults in the room.
Created by Tom Bidwell, who worked on My Big Fat Mad Diary and Watership Down, the new series has echoes of the X-Files, as the heroes have to face a succession of foes, all the while knowing a bigger and darker force is emerging as the season develops.
Bidwell describes himself as a massive fan of that format and hopes to entertain fans with creepy new ideas.
He said: “I think we’ve got some very cool and very scary monsters and villains in the show so I’m really looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to my mum seeing it and saying she doesn’t like it because it’s too scary. I’m just looking forward to it because it’s been such a long time coming.
“We’re really pleased with what we’re seeing and I just hope people will think it’s as cool as we do. I just really love the ‘monster a week’ format and I love the fact that we’ve been able to create eight small movies. I really want them to be talking points.
“You just really want to light a fire in the imagination of the audience and get them excited about it.”
And he warned viewers not to expect a cookie cutter Sherlock Holmes interpretation.
“I hope the audience won’t go in expecting to see a very traditional adaptation of Conan Doyle’s work because this isn’t that. We don’t intend to be that and we’re not protecting the canon: we’re taking elements and twisting and turning them.
“Our inspirations were things like The X-Files. We also looked at a lot of horror films: Stephen King was a huge reference point for us. I think Stephen King has that kind of characterfulness, weirdness, darkness but also the story is so important, it’s not just about shocking people - it’s about telling really good stories."
The Irregulars is on Netflix now
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