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Small screen style: Sherlock

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Not if the dastardly villains forcing Sherlock into death plunges and motorbike chases have their way, warns Anna Hart

This weekend’s Series Three finale is our last fix for Sherlock knows how long. Creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have confirmed that they’ve already plotted out the next two series, but fans have a sartorial cliffhanger to endure: will Sherlock’s coat make it to Series Four?

Sherlock’s flouncy, frocky Belstaff Millford coat is a garment so iconic and sought-after that China-manufactured replicas abound on eBay, while genuine secondhand items regularly sell for several times the original retail price of £1350. The design is no longer being made by stubborn old Belstaff, and despite owning three of the cherished items, Sherlock’s Costume Designer, Sarah Arthur, has admitted there’s a genuine a danger the series will outlast the coats. Stuntwork is not what Irish tweed was born for.

But Sherlock without his coat would be as bereft as Watson without his Sherlock. Cumberbatch cuts a suitably melodramatic figure onscreen, with his angular Manga-esque features (which, incidentally, have been given a genuine Manga makeover) and mop of unruly hair, all thrown into stark relief by frenetic camerawork that frames him against dramatic backdrops like the London skyline or a rain-lashed street. The stiff-collared, swishy coat gives Sherlock the most instantly recognisable onscreen silhouette since the Hooded Claw. When you’re reviving onscreen an iconic character like Sherlock Holmes, he needs to look more Sherlocky than the Sherlocks that went before.

Of course, a Sherlock coat is really just a Withnail coat, with less vomit and cat hair on it. And it’s used to similar effect by both Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Richard E Grant’s Withnail; to add flounce, pretension, drama, eccentricity and edge. All are exemplary qualities in a superlong coat. More so than any other garment, the right coat can be pure costume, something that transforms you - like a superhero in a phonebox - into a whole new character.

Sherlock without his Belstaff? Too cruel. Damn Moriarty and his brutal disregard for the bruising effect of pavement on tweed.

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