'Sherlock' Boss Reveals The Christmas Special Is About 'The Role Of Women'

Mark Gatiss reveals why "The Abominable Bride" is a feminist affair.

It's been nearly two years since audiences have visited the world of "Sherlock," but the agonizing wait is almost over. Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and the rest of the gang from 221B Baker Street will return on New Year's Day for a brand new special, set for the first time ever in Victorian England.

Fans of the hit series are eagerly anticipating seeing Cumberbatch and Freeman visit their iconic characters' original era -- but when MTV News caught up with "Sherlock" co-creator-slash-star Mark Gatiss to promote his upcoming episode of "Doctor Who," he revealed that the special, "The Abominable Bride," will bring about more changes for the women of "Sherlock" than its two leading men.

"[Holmes and Watson] were modern men then, you see... it wasn’t a [challenge] really with Holmes and Watson for this one, because they were very much modern men then," Gatiss explained. "It’s still our show -- it’s Victorian, but it’s still our show. It hasn’t suddenly become fusty and slow. The big challenge was the role of women. You can’t ignore how it was -- in fact, it’s fundamental to the plot. It was very interesting; a lot of things you would just take for granted in terms of how women got about, in that society, are totally different.

"The way that women were controlled in the 19th century was the total absence of public lavatories for women," Gatiss continued. "There is a story about the first public lavatory for women -- it’s still there, it’s made of stone, but the first one was made of wood. The first one was destroyed by an irate cab driver who drove his cab into it because he thought it was disgusting. But basically, if you were a woman in that age and you couldn’t really go around without paying a visit, you couldn’t go very far from home. Isn’t that an extraordinary thought? It’s like mind control, it is."

So basically, the women of the special -- who include Freeman's real-life partner Amanda Abbington as Mary, Louise Brealey as Molly Hooper, Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson, and presumably the titular bride -- will have a whole lot to do this holiday season, in an episode that Gatiss thinks should make viewers of all genders very happy.

Also happy will be fans of a slightly kinder and gentler Sherlock -- you know, the dude we saw in "The Last Vow," before he shot Magnussen right in the face.

"It’s a special, it’s a side-step, but it’s the same show," Gatiss continued. "[Humanizing Sherlock] was a particular decision we made, because to be honest, Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is not the same man in the end as he was in the beginning. Doctor Watson changes his life, he humanizes him. He’s never going to be like us, otherwise he wouldn’t be interesting, but of course he gets better at it. Otherwise he’d just be an idiot, and he’d be standing still. We made a conscious decision to make him a bit warmer... but he’s never going to be like everybody else, otherwise he wouldn’t be Sherlock Holmes."

Gatiss also teased a Victorian twist on the show's now often-copied text message technique -- something he says was "very challenging" to recreate in the past -- and assured MTV News that, yes, the show has a long-term plan when it comes to what the heck is going on with Moriarty (Andrew Scott).

"There’s a master plan," he said with a smile. "There’s a plan. There is a long-term plan. Very long term."

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