BBC warns CBS over new Sherlock series

By David Knox on January 27, 2012 / Filed Under News 20

A legal fight may be looming over Sherlock, with the BBC wary of a plan by CBS Television.

Last week, CBS announced a pilot for its own modern retelling of the Holmes story to be set in New York.

BBC Executive Producer Sue Vertue, said, “We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It’s interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn’t resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying…We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and well being of our offspring.”

CBS told the Hollywood Reporter, “Our project is a contemporary take on Sherlock Homes that will be based on Holmes, Watson and other characters in the public domain, as well as original characters.

“We are, of course, respectful of all copyright laws and will not infringe on any stories or works that may still be protected.”

Some reports say that all but one of Doyle’s works are in the public domain, leading to some confusion over whether the character is still copyrighted. US copyright law meanwhile, only protects “substantially similar” expression and not ideas.

Nine has three new telemovies featuring the BBC’s Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, due to begin airing shortly.

20 Comments »

  1. Charlie Kelly January 30, 2012 at 2:44 am -

    Sherlock Holmes is British.

    The British show is amazingly good.

    It’s not sherlock holmes if it aint british.

    The success even of the Robert Downey films is even though he’s a yank, the character is still british.

    it just has disaster all over it. There already are a million modern american takes on sherlock. The mentalist would be heavily inspired by it. It just aint sherlock holmes.

  2. Katie January 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm -

    Sherlock is one of the most magnificent shows created for television, series 2 was simply perfection. If the US thinks they can make a show even half as good need to look to past UK remake failures. Honestly, no one can do television like the Brits and the Americans are kidding themselves.

  3. Nathan January 29, 2012 at 6:11 pm -

    @Max, CBS can only go two ways, modern like the BBC or a historical setting like what Ritchie and countless others have done, so you’ll be losing out one way or another.

  4. Max Renn January 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm -

    Get Guy Ritchie to direct the pilot. I don’t like the British contemporary spin, so I’d like to see what the US can do with it.

  5. ElizaJo January 28, 2012 at 4:21 am -

    Am in the uk Sherlock has just finished here it was brilliant!! The US have already tried stealing some of our great shows and failed this sounds doomed from the start, but hey ho let em try I could do with a laugh!!!

  6. Maria January 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm -

    Meh, the only real similarity between Twenty Twelve and The Games is the basic premise (mockumentary showing people organising the Games). Completely different style, stories, characters. TT is much closer to People Like Us, really. And The Games is still miles funnier. Love it to death (where’s the sequel we were promised? :( )

    But I did see the irony. I seriously hope this doesn’t happen though. It’s got failure written all over it. I don’t know how some of these things get green lit. They’ve already got House anyway, isn’t that supposed to be a sort of modern take on Holmes?

  7. mik January 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm -

    You’d have to be stupid to licence Sherlock Homes.

  8. Paul January 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm -

    Re: Nick’s comment

    I’d bet Watson is a woman, so they can still have amazing chemistry without offending middle america.

  9. Ranco January 27, 2012 at 6:35 pm -

    Hasn’t the mentalist basically been the sherlock holmes in the USA? There’s hardly any difference in speech and character.

  10. marius j January 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm -

    season 2 of sherlock is outstanding. thank god foe the BBC is all i have to say!. CBS-don’t bother!

  11. Craig January 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm -

    Don’t they already have Sherlock close in US shows like The Mentalist or House, do we the audiance need a Sherlock close or is CBS hoping to cash in on the recent movie version?

  12. David Knox January 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm -

    Nine has had Sherlock promos already, but not with the date obviously.

  13. Nathan January 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm -

    If I were Moffat and team at BBC, I’d be watching CBS very closely. Cause anything after Moffat’s Sherlock would pale in comparison.

  14. Nicole January 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm -

    Love this show! The us cant help but get their grubby hands on all the great uk shows. Bloody sh in america! It will be shit like the recent movie version. When are nine going to give us the dates! Have not seen any ads yet. David u said mid feb so the ads will start in the next week or two yes?

  15. Nick January 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm -

    I bet Sherlock will be black in the American version.

  16. Bella January 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm -

    Just think it could be CSI Sherlock. hee!

  17. deedeedragons January 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm -

    Sadly most Americans have probably no idea what the BBC is, let alone one of their programs. Who’d wanna watch the CBS version anyway? They’ll just dumb it down.

  18. Rick January 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm -

    > Some reports say that all but one of Doyle’s works are in the public domain, leading to some confusion over whether the character is still copyrighted

    This could be because copyright law in the US and the UK is different.

    Essentially, both series are “fan fiction” (as is the current movie franchise). If the legal intricacies of creating fan fiction don’t bore you to tears, head over to Wikipedia: wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_issues_with_fan_fiction

  19. db January 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm -

    Charlie – I had exactly the same thought. : )

  20. Charlie Miso January 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm -

    Is this the same BBC who are shamelessly ripping off ‘The Games’?

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