Benedict Cumberbatch says Sherlock Holmes will be ‘less of a dick’ in series four

The series begins on New Year's Day with 'The Six Thatchers' episode

Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the imminent new series of Sherlock, saying his titular character will be “less of a dick”.

The fourth series of the show will begin on New Year’s Day on BBC One with the episode ‘The Six Thatchers’. It will air in the US on the same night.

The new episode picks up where series three left off, when Sherlock Holmes was briefly exiled from the UK, before returning as a “Did you miss me?” message from Moriarty spread across the country.

The cast of the show recently took part in a Q&A session in London after a screening of the first episode of series four. During the session, Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington and creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss discussed the upcoming season and the show’s future.

When Cumberbatch suggested his character would be “less of a dick”, the cast joked it should be a tagline for the series, as Deadline reports.

The cast and creators also said the new series would grow darker throughout, although “not in an entirely unfunny way”, according to Gatiss.

Cumberbatch added that Holmes: “is becoming, in a very clear way, responsible for his actions. But I think he understands that it’s a slow, slow process that began in the very first instance when he met John [Watson].”

He also said he had found the “needed missing part of the jigsaw that is him,” which was the catalyst for a friendship that “has been a humanizing element all the way through.”

Earlier this year, Moffat and Gatiss appeared to suggest series four could be Sherlock‘s last, saying: “This is the story we’ve been telling from the beginning. A story about to reach its climax.”

They later said they saw the show continuing and that they never said season four would be the last, nor meant to imply as such. At the Q&A session Gatiss spoke more of the show’s future, saying: “We would love to do more, but we’re genuinely not lying this time, we don’t know.”

Moffat added: “Who’s to say all the characters make it out alive at the end of the series? Anything could happen.”