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February 21, 2016 1:22 am  #1


The BBC Sherlock Family

The Sherlock team has always been "in the family." Most of us here probably know all this, but just in case we have some new readers/fans, here's a rundown of the people who are involved in the show and are related to each other in some way.

~ Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are co-creators, writers and producers of the show. They've been friends for a very long time. Without the friendship of these two, there would be no BBC Sherlock!
~ Mark of course landed the part of Mycroft.
~ Sue Vertue, producer of Sherlock, is married to Steven Moffat.
~ Beryl Vertue, executive producer of Sherlock, is Sue Vertue's mum.
~ Olivia Poulet cast as PA Amanda in TBB was Benedict's girlfriend at the time.
~ Ian Hallard cast as Moriarty's Defence Barrister in TRF is Mark Gatiss' husband.
~ Amanda Abbington cast as Mary Morstan is Martin Freeman's de facto partner.
~ Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton are cast as Sherlock's parents and are actually Benedict's real parents.
~ Louis Oliver Moffat cast as young Sherlock in HLV is the son of Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue.
And a few extras:
~ Derren Brown was cast as himself in TEH and is a friend of Mark's.
~ Dog cast as Redbeard in HLV belongs to a friend of the producers.
~ Uncredited guy who was cast as Lord Moran in TEH – I read a great theory that he is the son of Jeremy Brett, and I think the arguments are very convincing!

There are possibly some that I've missed, let me know. I'm sure a lot of the cast and crew have worked with each other before, and are probably good friends. We've also seen that extras are recycled in this show.

Steven Moffat has "admitted to" and joked about the "nepotism" in the show. "Generally speaking we just don't like to go outside our tiny circle very much," he told Radio 2's Chris Evans in an interview.

So what are the pros and cons of this nepotistic bias?

I'm going to copy over some of the comments from the Photos of Martin thread that were OT into this new thread.

There is also a bit of OT discussion on this topic in a HLV thread here http://sherlock.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=4372


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February 21, 2016 1:37 am  #2


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Let me know if anyone wants me to delete any of their quotes.

Vhanja wrote:

I can't help thinking, professional or no, how that must feel playing scenes like that when they are a couple in real life. How does it feel to have your actual partner look at you like that? Of course Amanda knows it's acting, but I'm still wondering about how that must feel.

mrshouse wrote:

That is an interesting one. I don't think about that very much, I'm quite sure that both are professional enough to leave that out.
But I think it's not a good sign if you think of the real life couple in scenes like this one. That doesn't make up for the astounding lack of chemistry Martin and Amanda have in this show. A proper casting could have done a world of good.

Vhanja wrote:

Oh, I think they have tons of chemistry on the show!
Edit: I just realise that was an odd thing to write considering I just started a thread asking what chemistry is. What I meant was that I like how they portray their relationship, they feel comfortable around each other.

ancientsgate wrote:

I thought it was odd that TPTB cast her in the Mary role to start with. I really never quite forget that she's Martin's RL SO when I ever see them together on-screen.  It throws me out of the story, every time. And now apparently we're going to be stuck with the Mary character from now until eternity, so I guess I better get used to it.

besleybean wrote:

Really?  I think they act fantastically together and I think their characters are well suited.

mrshouse wrote:

I find them quite boring in this particular setting, but maybe that's just me. I think they could have casted a Mary with whom Martin interacts in a more sparcly way.

nakahara wrote:

One word: NEPOTISM! (of a big kind)
If you want to prove why such thing is bad for a show, don´t look any further.

besleybean wrote:

I think all of the BBC Sherlock actors are talented and perform well in the show.
Amanda was always the obvious choice for Mary.
I always said so and in fact as far as I'm aware, as was one of the first to predict she would be used in that role.

Yitzock wrote:

If it were bad for the show, then they shouldn't have cast Benedict's parents as Sherlock's parents or Louis Moffat as young Sherlock.  But they were good, and I don't think Amanda is bad as Mary either.  Obviously not everyone's going to agree, but I don't think there's anything wrong with her in the role.
Besides, if you don't like Mary, it doesn't matter who's going to play her, you still probably wouldn't like her, I don't think, considering the strength of many people's feelings about Mary.

nakahara wrote:

I was thinking about them too. You can also add Ian Hallard acting as a solicitor in TRF, that weird person who acted as Lord Moran in TEH etc. Even the dog in HLV was cast because it belonged to a member of a cast.
This show is overflowing with nepotism... and I fully believe it would be a thousand times better if this would be avoided by the authors.

Yitzock wrote:

You can't say that they never got the opportunity.  You don't know how many people they auditioned.  Not every single cast member was previously a friend.  And Sherlock isn't the only show out there for those who didn't get chosen.  Maybe there's bias, but everything has bias.

nakahara wrote:

We also don´t know how many talented people got refused because BBC employees wanted to cast their aunts, uncles, brothers, sister, canaries and the like in the show their produced.
Nepotism is definitely bad because it chooses friendly or familiar connections over skills or talent...

ancientsgate wrote:

The world is very small nowadays. With the internet, all the fans know about the stars' families and who's who. So yeah, I think particularly in this day and age, it's a big mistake to use real family members in episodic TV roles. Whether or not it was done strictly because of nepotism in this case, I don't know what TPTB's true intentions were/are, so I couldn't say. I imagine, for casual fans, who wouldn't know AA or Ben's parents if they fell over them in the street, it literally doesn't matter who is cast. Sometimes I think we all know too much, which is why we are sometimes dissatisfied by even minor things.
Thank God Martin isn't Ben's long-lost stepbrother or cousin or something, lol. Or vice versa.

ancientsgate wrote:

Again, I still believe that casual fans would neither know nor care who in hell is cast in the show. I find the nepotism thing kind of bizarre, but we know very well that Mofftiss et al consider themselves clever in the extreme, so they probably thought the nepotism (even a dog!) was hysterically funny, all in good sport, and too cool for school.  Which as we know is quite subjective and always a matter of opinion.

Last edited by ukaunz (February 21, 2016 1:38 am)


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February 21, 2016 1:55 am  #3


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Some pros I can think of:
~ They can find talent through word of mouth and spend less time and money going through agencies and casting calls etc. Instead they can spend more time and money making our favourite show.
~ In the case of Benedict's parents, they had two working actors of the right appearance (the exact genetic combination, in fact) to play Sherlock's parents.
~ Instant rapport or chemistry between actors (this is apparently subjective in some cases).
~ The showrunners can keep their secrets closer to their chests (eg. S4 plots!)
~ A greater sense of family, commitment, loyalty etc. to the show among cast and crew.
~ Saves on transport expenses?

Last edited by ukaunz (February 21, 2016 1:58 am)


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February 21, 2016 2:24 am  #4


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Good idea for a thread!

The obvious cons I see is that it might quickly lead to talk of people not getting parts because of who they know (or don't know) instead of their skills. Whether that is true or not I don't know, but such blatant nepotism will lead to that kind of talk, understandably so.


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February 21, 2016 2:26 am  #5


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

This must have taken a lot of work, ukaunz, so kudos to you for completing all of this on your own! 

One of the quotes was that it takes some out of the moment when they remember the relationship, but I wonder whether it was different before those people knew that there was a previous relation between them.  Also, not everyone is going to have that problem, so I don't think that's something we can really blame them for.  But I'm not going to blame someone for always remembering that, it's just not something that bothers me, personally.

I've never had any problem with any of the people that they have cast in the show, and since this was, to some extent, a passion project for Steven and Mark from the beginning because of their love of Sherlock Holmes, then I'm sure that whoever they like and know who gets roped in will feed off of that and create something special.  The fact that we all love the show and that it's been successful would attest to that, I think.


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February 21, 2016 2:32 am  #6


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Well said, Yitzock. I didn't know of any of the connections when I first watched the show, and I didn't have a problem with the casting of any of the characters we're talking about. I do think people's feelings for the character of Mary are being transferred to AA, consciously or not.

Last edited by ukaunz (February 21, 2016 2:32 am)


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February 21, 2016 2:33 am  #7


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

IMO Sherlock is a quirky show and has been from the get-go.  Almost as if Mofftiss got together from the start and said to each other, "Let's impress everyone with how very clever we are, and above all, let's try to out-clever each other as the episodes go by."  The nepotism is just one more indication of how TPTB decided to get quirky, stay quirky, out-quirky each other whenever possible.  So very much nepotism (even a dog!) can never be considered accidental, after all.

The only casting that bothers me personally is AA as Mary--  they inserted her character right square in between Sherlock and John, after all, and she's been....  odd. An odd character, interacting with our guys at every turn. And she's not going away. Every single time she's on the screen, I can't forget that she's Martin's SO and the mother of their children. I like the character of Mary OK, I suppose. But why oh why did she have to be played by AA?

OTOH, I presume we won't see Ben's parents very often, if ever again.
 

 

February 21, 2016 8:47 am  #8


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

I have no problem with any of the characters or actors.
I had issues with Irene, but they were my issues and I did not impose them on the team.
I think Amanda is great and does a good job, I have no problem separating her form Mary.
They were obviously going to follow canon and marry John off.
When dealing with the wife of one of the leads, it's rather difficult for her not to seem between the leads.
Of course she is, she's married to one and pals with the other.
I see her as a bridge, not a barrier.
I do also think there is some truth in what has already been said: it wouldn't have mattered who played Mary, people just don't like her.
I don't see the nepotism as negative at all: I think we are dealing with a group of lovely people who like working in a close, family atmosphere. Possibly the show works so well, because they do all genuinely like each other and get on.
Dealing with the castings of the main characters:
Yes Mark knew Ben slightly from once having worked with him before. But Steven and he both thought of him independently and didn't want to consider anybody else.
Martin had a really bad first audition(and as far as I'm aware, neither Mark or Steven knew him), but got it after a call back. Benedict after said he wanted him, but Mark and Steven had already made that decision by then.
Even in the most recent interview, we see two men who are deeply committed to this show. real ACD fan boys who want to respect that body of work, which they know so well.
But they also want to make the best TV and for me, since the get go, have gathered around them the best team to fulfill that.
They have never disappointed me.
I doubt they ever will.
They are starting with a good product and have faithfully brought it into the 21st century.
The latest interviews I've seen have both told us that Mark and Steven are in complete tune with each other and they've said previously they collaborate enormously.They write the show for themselves.
I won't ever apologise for them being intelligent, creative and original writers.

Last edited by besleybean (February 21, 2016 8:48 am)


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February 21, 2016 10:49 am  #9


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

This is an interesting topic for a thread but must also be treated with care, as it quickly delves into the real life surroundings of the actors and actresses.
Just a couple of quick thoughts:
- I think it is a very big difference if you cast a close -by person or animal for a cameo of mere seconds or a couple of minutes, or you chose someone for a part that is not really a lead but also not really a simple supporting part. The later should deserve a proper casting. Look at Ben and Martin, Martin was chosen from a group of actors and the two turned out to become one of the best TV couples ever.
- I feel it's to simple to say, those who don't like Mary don't like Amanda. I don't think that's the case. Personally for me it's actually true, but I know that there are fans who have trouble with Mary but like Amanda as an actress and are interested in her works. So there are all sorts. Personally I would have preferred another actress for Mary and maybe the whole love story would have convinced me. Or Amanda as Harry! Hilarious! I'm not against real life couples working together, it's obviously a nice thing. But in this case a bit of an experiment like having her as Harry for example would have been much more brave IMHO.


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February 21, 2016 11:04 am  #10


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

ukaunz wrote:

........... I didn't know of any of the connections when I first watched the show..............

When did the (alleged) nepotism start? Most of us were hooked on Sherlock, and (for me anyway) BC and MF and the Sherlock-John relationship, well before Mary was introduced.

I knew the gal with the jade hair pin was BC's RL GF at the time, but she was such a minor character!  What did she have, like 5 minutes of dialogue and screen time?  Not much, whatever it was, and we never saw her again.  But sorry, when they take a major recurring, multi-season character like Mary, and not only make her John's wife but also get her with child, ensuring that she'll be there in some way or another for *forever*, to me, that's MAJOR nepotism, the kind that hardly anyone would not notice.

After all, hair pin! gal and Irish setter! dog and BC's real life! parents?  We barely saw them, just for a few minutes altogether. But with the casting of AA, TPTB made an executive decision that nepotism be damned, they were going with it, and if no one liked it, well....  they could go watch something else.
 

 

February 21, 2016 11:13 am  #11


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

It's nice how you defend the show, the showrunners, and the actors, bb. I admire your loyalty and the positive spin you put on things. I'm not trying to be a wisea** saying that; I'm serious. I would like to be more of a glass-half-full person, the way you apparently are.

I am not disappointed in anything--  as a bit of a creative person myself, I understand artistic choices and telling my story, be damned if anyone else "gets" it or approves. So I 100% defend the right for TPTB of Sherlock to have made the creative choices they've made. Their show, their story, their casting, and if I don't like it, I only have about 1000 other shows I can watch!

But I'm fascinated with human behavior, and I enjoy observing and deducing (Sherlock! lol) about who's doing what and what the possible reasons for it might be. As for the Sherlock production, I'm not angry, not disappointed, not disillusioned, nothing like that. I'm just.....  observing long distance, from over here in my particular tree! I find the nepotism in the Sherlock casting bizarre and unnecessary, but that's my take on it. With 10 million 40-something blonde actresses available to them, they chose Martin's WIFE (or whatever she calls herself)?  Really?  Ooookaaaay......

 

February 21, 2016 2:49 pm  #12


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Whatever the reasoning was, I don't really think it's the worst thing they could have done.  Like you have mentioned acientsgate, there are other things we like about the show.  I don't think that the casting choices are a dealbreaker.  For me, I didn't know until after I had seen the entire show that anybody was someone's real life partner or child or parent or what have you.  And when I did find out, it was more of a fun bit of trivia than anything else, and it doesn't bother me upon rewatching any of the episodes or watching new episodes.  I'm watching the characters and the story, not the people in it.  I didn't really know any of these actors well (and I hadn't even seen Benedict in more than two movies at that point) when I started the show, and even after I did become more familiar with them, they were characters when I watch the show.  I don't think about who they are in real life when I'm watching it.  I think they do a good job for me to forget that there's any other relationships off-screen.
And of course, the playing field, I would say, is levelled now between any previously-known people and those who weren't before the show got started because they're all friends now anyway.  Maybe it could have made a difference in the beginning, though I certainly did not notice anything that I didn't like, but since the show has been going on for years now, they are all friends.

I don't know how strong this next thing I'm going to say will be, but it just crossed my mind: any show that goes on for a longer period of time...everyone becomes friends, the people who knew each other before and who didn't know each other before (generally speaking, obviously there have been times when actors didn't get along off-screen, but a lot of casts of shows do end up becoming very comfortable around each other, you can see it in interviews).  If it were so bad to work with people you became friends with, then the quality of all shows' acting would have gone down after a few seasons. But that doesn't happen, does it? Not generally speaking, I would say.
Now, I know we're talking about the initial casting here, but if it were a problem to know people off-screen that you're working with, wouldn't people stop acting well after a while? 
Don't know how well that one holds up, that was kind of a tangent.

Going back to Benedict and Martin - as ukaunz already said, they were not simply chosen because they knew each other.  Martin auditioned and happened to have excellent chemistry with Benedict and things worked out.  Mark may have known of Benedict before, but if Steven thought of him as well then obviously he was the choice they would go with.  Also remember he wasn't as well-known and popular at the time.  And if Martin wasn't as good the firsts time he auditioned as when he read with Benedict, then obviously they still saw something in him (something in somebody they didn't know well), that made them want to give him another go before choosing someone else.  
So I don't think we can say that they necessarily only wanted to cast people they knew and would totally reject anyone they don't know.

And do we even know how they chose Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, or Rupert Graves? 
If they didn't already know them very well beforehand, then it's only a small part of the main cast that was actually friends and family being cast.  Is it really that big of a deal?

Sorry if the post was kind of long, I kept thinking of things as I was writing.


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February 21, 2016 2:58 pm  #13


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

I would like to thank mrshouse for her contribution.
I remain confused as to what we are allowed to say on here about real life people and what we are not to...
But that aside: yes I know we say speculation is fun.
Well I can see that with a plot line or character development...
But musings on nepotism in actor selection, I'm honestly not really certain how useful I find that.
As ever, it's up to people to decide whether they continue to watch the show or not:
I can only assume that at some time there is a critical mass point reached, where one dislikes more about it than they like. In which case, to borrow from Steven: maybe you've chosen the wrong show.


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February 21, 2016 3:31 pm  #14


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Una and Benedict were already acquainted too, although I don't suppose that's why they cast her (I suspect they cast her because she's wonderful, and a household name).   Apparently, they changed the show and made her more motherly because she and Benedict already had that kind of a relationship (I can't remember where I got this information from - probably one of the commentaries).

Oh, and I'm sure I've heard Mark mention that he had a crush on Rupert when he was younger (didn't we all?).  Again, no source, and my memory may be playing tricks on me!

Last edited by Liberty (February 21, 2016 3:32 pm)

 

February 21, 2016 3:36 pm  #15


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Yes as Benedict says: 'he's a very groovy and sexy detective'...or words to that effect!


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February 21, 2016 8:45 pm  #16


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Some cons of nepotism:

- three authors, not two, worked at Sherlock at the beginning. But poor Thompson, although he wrote one of the most successful episode (TRF), was almost never featured in any promotional work nor interview and at the end he was discreetly sent away or left without even being mentioned. Because he is not "part of the family". It´s a pity and a bit ungrateful that TPTB mutely omitted him and took all the acolades themselves.

- it´s allright when you promise yor friends that you will feature them for a few minutes in your work. It becomes the problem when you do that in the series which has only three episodes every three years. Instead of plotting the brilliant action in an episode, you are suddenly forced to write lengthy scenes for the parents of one actor, the partner of the second actor, some unknown person who asked you to be cast as a villain of the piece, you also write long smug scene for yourself... and suddenly you are at the end of an episode and must help yourself with a bomb off-switch to give the episode some ending....

- casting of a real life couple as a fictional couple in your series makes any discussion of the said fictional couple problematic. If one of the fictional spouses does the nasty thing (like shooting the main character dead), you can´t even point this out - because for some, suddenly it´s the real couple you are criticising...


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February 21, 2016 8:52 pm  #17


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Not at all.
Some of us are quite capable of differentiating between an actor and a character.


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February 21, 2016 9:11 pm  #18


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

And yet it´s insinuated that people who criticise Mary subconsciously transfer their dislike of a character to a real life AA...


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February 21, 2016 9:41 pm  #19


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Not all of them, but they are certainly out there.


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Clueing for looks.
 

February 21, 2016 9:44 pm  #20


Re: The BBC Sherlock Family

Well we all have our crosses to bear... if we don't believe in Johnlock, it's insinuated we are homophobes.


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