BBC warns CBS over new Sherlock series

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.


  1. 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. 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. @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. 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!!!

  5. 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?

  6. 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?

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. > 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:

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