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Live: 'Sherlock' panel at Comic-Con

Live: 'Sherlock' panel at Comic-Con
Read live coverage of the panel for Sherlock, direct from Comic-Con in San Diego.

After what seems like an eternity of waiting, Sherlock finally returns later this year for three new episodes.

First order of business: explaining THAT impossible ending to series two, where Sherlock committed suicide by jumping off a building and smashing into the pavement below, only to show up a short while later lurking creepily around his own gravestone.

Both Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Martin Freeman (Watson) are not expected to attend today's panel as they're currently shooting the final episode, but exec producers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will be present to tease us silly.

Please note that all times in this live blog are Pacific, which is eight hours behind the UK and three hours behind the East Coast.

Hello and thanks for joining me for one of the most anticipated panels here at Comic-Con, Sherlock!

All being well, things should get underway in around ten minutes' time.

So what do we know about series three already? The first episode, 'The Empty House', is penned by Gatiss and is based on the classic Sherlock tale 'The Adventure of the Empty House', where Sherlock reveals that he has faked his death.

The second, 'The Sign of Three', is written by Steve Thompson while Moffat has penned the series finale.

So why so long between this series and the last? The little matter of The Hobbit trilogy, which has drained the time of Freeman and Cumberbatch (who also juggled a Mr. Nasty role in the latest Star Trek film). Freeman only finished his pickup shots last week.

Still awaiting the start of this panel, which will also feature Moffat's wife and fellow producer Sue Vertue.

Lights down and it's a sizzle reel for PBS, which airs Sherlock in the US. Screams from the crowd every time old Cumberface pops up on screen.

The biggest cheers of the day in this room as James Hibberd from EW announces the start of the session.

Hibbered asks why the two stars aren't here. Moffat: "One of them is a high-functioning sociopath, the other is a hobbit."

Special video message from Freeman and Cumberbatch. Freeman encourages the audience to grab at Moffat as he tries to leave the stage. Cumberbatch says it's a great pleasure to talk about playing Khan in Star Trek, before he is corrected. "It's a great pleasure for me to talk to you about playing Smaug..." he begins, before being interrupted again.

Cumberbatch is rambling a bit now, doing a New Zealand accent.

He starts recreating the scene of Sherlock jumping off the top of a building using a toy monkey. The signal is variously lost as he explains how Sherlock survived.

Moffat: "By the time we got to transmission, we knew it was going to be huge, because the second series had been bigger than the first. Then we realised it was going to be ridiculous, people are going to be so cross. And that's when it got so fun."

Gatiss says they watched the episode around Freeman's house. "As soon as it finished, everyone's phones went crazy."

Is the solution something the audience could have figured out? Gatiss: "There are only a few ways you can fall off the roof and survive. And it's not black magic."

Moffat: "It's a rational explanation, we did know it before we shot it. We knew how it was going down, and when you see the answer, you'll see we had to know in advance and it had to be plotted out."

Moffat says he doesn't think people really think people care about it "because it's an answer", he thinks people are more bothered about Sherlock and Watson meeting again.

Of the scene, Gatiss says it's "electrifying" and Moffat says "it's the real showstopper of the episode".

On Moriarty, Moffat: "He is dead. He shot himself through the brainstem, people don't come back from that."

Could they ever kill off Sherlock or Watson? Mofat: "You could never do that. And if you did, he'd just pop up behind another tree."

Moffat: "He dies. He's dead. He shot himself in the face, what more do you want? Do you think they were up on that rooftop and did a fake suicide at each other?!"

How much Mycroft in series three? Gatiss: "There's been a lot of nice stuff. The big thing we wanted to explore, in the original story Watson's reaction was quite quickly and he just forgives him. We thought that wasn't right, so we wanted to explore how it affected all the regulars, really."

Are they signed up for a fourth series? Moffat: "We didn't know Benedict had commissioning powers but I think we're going to get him to announce other things." Vertue: "They are optioned for the fourth series, we just haven't got a definite yet."

Could there be a big screen Sherlock? Moffat: "We sort of do but it's an interesting thought. They take ages to set up, films. We wouldn't want to do anything to reduce the quantity [of episodes] further."

Three hints for series three they previously gave, 'rat, wedding, bow'. What can they tell us about that and episode one? Gatiss: "It's based on The Empty House, but only a little. It's got a different plot. But the enormously important thing is the impact Sherlock's return has on John. And then something with a rat in it. Maybe a biscuit tin."

In episode two John meets Mary. Moffat: "Hot off the press from 110 years ago, John does get married. Keep watching this panel. For a treat later."

Does Sherlock need to find a new roommate? Moffat: "Who says he has to move out? He'd ask 'Why are you living with her?'"

Gatiss on Cumberbatch and Freeman: "They have a great chemistry. They have a really good laugh and it all transmits itself onto the screen." Moffat: "The biggest surprise is Benedict is the goofy one, and Martin is the sardonic one, so the other way around."

Gatiss: "Benedict is quite puppyish and bumbly, and Martin is more sort of direct and earthy. Maybe they should put each other's costumes on." Moffat: "Maybe Benedict should solve a crime."

Vertue says their trailer was "a three-way" in the first series but now they have their own trailers.

Clip time. Absolutely hilarious. Sherlock giving the best man's speech at Watson's wedding, recalling Watson asking him to be best man.

Is Sherlock a sociopath? Moffat: "Not really, I think he finds that a convenient way of getting away with things. At the start I think he thinks he is, but then he meets Moriarty and realises that's what one is. It's a decision to be that way, a convenient label."

What's Sherlock's reputation in series three? Gatiss: "We can't really. There's a lot of housekeeping we do straight away to get on with the stuff we really want to do."

Does series three also end in a cliffhanger? Moffat: "You'll be watching the end of the last episode thinking 'they wouldn't stop it there would they?' and then 'they wouldn't stop it there would they?'"

Could the series run and run? Moffat: "We'd like to." Vertue: "As long as everyone wants to, we'll keep doing it." Gatiss: "There's a huge gap in between where they can go off and make big movies, or in Martin's case one long movie, then come back to the show they love doing. If we can keep that going it's ideal really."

Gatiss: "There's something lovely about the idea of them being 55 around the same fireplace."

Audience Q&A time. Are they considering other projects together? Gatiss: "We'd love to but all our time is occupied but we'd love to."

What would they say to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Gatiss: "We owe everything to him, the best writer of short stories ever, so I'd like to say thank you. By the way, spiritualism is a dream." Moffat: "They are the best storytelling, and he's sort of inventing television. And he's still a big hit in it."

Moffat: "I was thinking about a really good entrance for Sherlock in episode three, which we're about to film, and I went back to his books and it was there."

If you could write any episode, what would it be? Gatiss: "Well we're sort of doing that." Well, quite. What a silly question.

Irene Adler in series three? Moffat: "Sex for Sherlock happens [in the head]. A romance with Sherlock Holmes? Good god, he'd poison his girlfriend just to get some work. The Irene Adler thing... none of them seemed particularly interested in sex at all."

Suggestion: Cumberbatch as The Master. Moffat: "Do you not think my life is complicated enough as it is?"

Who would solve a mystery faster, Sherlock, Batman or The Doctor? Moffat: "Well Batman would be intellectually lost with those two. I think the crime would not get solved while they had a little bitchfight with each other."

Moffat: "I like Batman by the way, I just slagged him off because I don't work on his show."

Could a woman become The Doctor? Moffat pretends his microphone has stopped working.

More of a friendship with Molly this series? Moffat: "They are friends. She is one of the very small number of people he trusts. She always wins. She makes him apologise. She tells him off. Wait to see what she does next time."

How will series three compare? Moffat: "I don't want to sound defeatist or incredibly arrogant. Actually I made my choice on that a long time ago. It's moved on. It's slightly more human, more real. We've got some scenes in this that we'd never have contemplated putting in previous series."

Gatiss: "What if Sherlock was John's best man? That's just an incredibly funny idea." Moffat: "It's a very unusual episode, that, but I think it's everything you'd hope it would be."

Fave episode or moment from first two series? Moffat: "My favourite moment would be the last 20 minutes of the two finales. The swimming pool scene and the last 20 minutes of Reichenbach as it racked up and up. As for my favourite episode, I would conceitedly plump for Scandal." Gatiss: "Me too. It's emotionally charged, tremendously satisfying and at its heart, very simple."

That's a wrap on this panel, thanks for joining me. Next up is The X-Files 20th anniversary panel, which you can follow with me live right here.

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