Sherlock” returns to BBC One on New Year’s Day with a fourth series starting with the premiere episode “The Six Thatchers.” This will be the first new “Sherlock” episode since “The Abominable Bride” last New Year, and the first full series of the show since the third series two years ago. When we last left Benedict Cumberbatch’s sociopathic detective in the third series, he was exiled from England until a strange message from Moriarty that said “Did you miss me?” swept the nation. After a preview screening of the season premiere, the show’s cast and crew discussed it at a Q&A session.

‘D*ckless Holmes, More of a D*ck Watson’

The biggest revelation of the session that the cast went into in some detail is that this year on “Sherlock,” the lead character will be “slightly less of a d*ck.” Moffat suggested that Watson’s personality will also change, albeit the other way than Holmes, when he joked that the tagline for the series should be “D*ckless Holmes, More of a D*ck Watson.” Cumberbatch, however, was quick to clarify “not d*ck-less.”

In keeping with “Sherlock”‘s modern twist on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian tales, the season premiere centres on a case in which someone is destroying images of Margaret Thatcher. Conan Doyle couldn’t write about Thatcher a hundred years before she was in power, let alone the thirty years later when she died.

As for the two episodes that will follow to conclude the season, the BBC promises “laughter, tears, shocks, surprises and extraordinary cases.”

Series 4 will be darker

Gatiss promises this season of “Sherlock” will be darker, however, it won't be dark "in an entirely unfunny way,” suggesting some black humour. Cumberbatch says that Sherlock is now becoming "responsible for his actions,” referring to the transition as “a slow, slow process" that first started way back when he first met Watson in the first episode.

When the source material came up, Gatiss said that the “Sherlock” writers put Holmes on a pedestal and idolise him for his brilliance as much as Arthur Conan Doyle did, "which is not at all.” He says that Conan Doyle could never grasp why his audience preferred the Holmes books to "all his serious work,” which frustrated him to the point of killing the character off, only to have to bring him back due to popular demand.

“But we understand,” said Gatiss, claiming to be smarter than Arthur Conan Doyle. “We embrace it fully.”

Cumberbatch on ‘the Golden Age of television’

When Cumberbatch was asked about the so-called “Golden Age of television,” born out of critically acclaimed, highly popular shows such as “Breaking Bad” and “True Detective” becoming the new novel, he said he doesn’t return to “Sherlock” every so often from his hectic Marvel/Oscar nomination-packed schedule because of that, but simply because he’s “very, very proud of the success of this program.” He said that any actor whose goal is “to contribute to that Golden Age” would be “a pretty dead duck.”

Cumberbatch added that a significant ambition in the making of the show is "to keep confounding the expectations of audiences" in order to "evolve" and be an ever-changing entity as opposed to, as Cumberbatch put it, "sitting on laurels.” The actor described “Sherlock” as “an evolution of a template” set in stone by the popular books, and said that it is “very fun to play fast and loose with the traditional."

Series 4 could be the last

Last year, when Moffat and Gatiss referred to the fourth series as the “climax” of he overall story, it was taken as a suggestion that this season of “Sherlock” would be the last.

However, they made a point of stating that while this season, “might be the end of an era,” they would “love to revisit it,” so it’s ambiguous as to whether or not we’ll see more of the show. Moffat teased, “Who’s to say all the characters make it out alive at the end of the series?" Interesting.