When Does 'Sherlock' Come Back? The Premiere Of More Benedict Cumberbatch Sleuthery Is Too Far Away

The worst thing about being a fan of the Emmy-nominated Sherlock is waiting for its return. The seasons are short to begin with — just three 90-minute episodes each — so it’s easy to burn through the entire season as soon as it arrives. Afterwards, even if there are still mysteries to solve and plot threads left hanging, there’s only one real question on a Sherlock fan’s mind: When is the next season going to air?

Unfortunately, if you’re waiting for the fourth season, you’re going to have to keep calm and keep waiting. The good news is that the BBC has announced that the Sherlock Season 4 premiere is on the way. There will be a Sherlock one-off special episode, which will be full length, followed by a regular fourth season with three more episodes.

Now, the bad news: The special isn’t even scheduled to start filming until January 2015. That means it’ll air in England sometime later that year, and then eventually come to PBS sometime after that. As of right now, there’s no specific time nailed down for when the fourth season will start filming — the BBC just says “later next year.” Steven Moffat and company really know how to keep us all on the hook.

There are obvious difficulties to scheduling a fourth season of Sherlock. The show has to work around the schedules of its two leads, Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. And, if you’ve noticed, Cumberbatch is in everything. Coming up, he’ll be codebreaker and math genius Alan Turing (inventor of the Turing Test) in The Imitation Game; Bill Bulger, the brother of Boston crime figure Whitey Bulger, in Black Mass; and Harry Larkins in Flying Horse, Gary Oldman’s movie about photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

And, when he’s not appearing in movies, he’s doing voiceovers for them. He’s an animal in The Penguins of Madagascar, an author who discovers magic in Magik, Shere Khan in The Jungle Book: Origins, and Smaug the dragon in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, where he once again acts opposite Martin Freeman.

Speaking of Freeman, he’s no slacker, either. He’s also got The Hobbit coming up, and this year just saw him starring in a season of Fargo on FX. Even Moffatt, the co-creator of Sherlock, has his hands full, since he’s also running Doctor Who over at the BBC. Trying to find a time when all three of them are available at the same time certainly seems like a feat.

So, we just have to wait until well into 2015, and there’s nothing we can do about it. And this might help: there are rumors that the one-off episode will be Christmas-themed. At least Freeman seems to think so, and he let it slip in the Telegraph: “If that’s going to be a special — I’m speaking off-message here; if this was New Labour I’d get fired — I think that might be for next Christmas. A Christmas special. That’s what I understand.”

While the waiting is the hardest part, we will see our beloved duo together again in the near future because Freeman and Cumberbatch are both nominated for Emmys this year for Sherlock; Cumberbatch is up for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, and Freeman is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. (“The Last Vow” episode of the show is also nominated for Outstanding Television Movie, along with Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.) Let’s hope that both stars show up to the awards ceremonies, since it might be the last time we see them together for a long, long time.

Images: Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films 2013 for MASTERPIECE; Giphy (2)