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BBC One officially announces 'Sherlock' special, season four

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Just a day after Martin Freeman hinted at when we might be able to expect the BBC hit Sherlock to return, BBC One followed up his comments on Wednesday with the official news regarding the show’s next move.

Executive producer and co-creator Steven Moffat said back in January that a fourth season of the show had been commissioned but today the network announced that we’ll actually get a bit more out of season four with the addition of a one-off special to supplement the planned three-episode season.

“A special, plus a new series of three episodes - it's a record-breaking run!” Moffat said. “Of course, it's far too early to say what's coming, but we're reasonably confident that the very next thing to happen to Sherlock and John, is the very last thing you'd expect...”

Here’s the (unsurprising) catch, though: as with the previous two hiatuses in between seasons, we’re once again looking at about two years total between seasons three and four. Shooting for the special will begin in January 2015, followed by filming for the season itself later in the year.

BBC’s news lines up with Freeman’s recent comments to The Telegraph. The official BBC press release does not say if the special is in fact due out for Christmas, but Freeman did say his understanding was that the show would return for a Christmas special and added that filming early next year “looks pretty likely.” A short mini episode was released online on Christmas Eve last year as a prequel to season three, which premiered on New Year's Day in the UK and January 19 on PBS in the United States.

Executive producer Sue Vertue said it took a little while to work out the dates for everything since the cast members have some very busy schedules but also promised there was “unanimous goodwill to make this work, so we’re thrilled that 221b is going to be inhabited again.”

BBC One took several measures to ramp up the anticipation on Twitter Tuesday by announcing that something (“or someone”) would be coming. Fittingly, the channel made the announcement at exactly 2:21 p.m. local time along with the hashtag #221back. The Twitter account for BBC One even added a deerstalker (aka a Sherlock hat) to its icon, which now sits jauntily on the O.

There were also a few hints that we’re really not done with Moriarty after all, as implied in the shocking final moments of the season three finale. A few of BBC One’s tweets either had the phrase “Miss me?” or an image of Moriarty from the finale when he reappeared on TV screens across the land. The page’s icon was also briefly a photo of Moriarty. It’s now the logo sporting a deerstalker but you can see a screenshot done by the UK’s Metro here.

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