One of the most surprising and shocking moments of the BBC’s recent adaptation “Sherlock” – a retelling of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson set in the 21st Century – was undoubtedly during the last episode of the second series, titled “The Reichenbach Fall” and based on the original Arthur Conan Doyle story “The Final Problem”.

It occurred when Sherlock and John, upon fleeing the police, end up handcuffed together and sat in a journalist’s apartment wanting to know more about the source of her information for a “shocking expose” she is writing on the detective. Her source is a man named Richard Brook whom shortly afterwards, arrives at the apartment, and turns out to be none other than Moriarty himself, or at least, the man whom we have known to be Moriarty throughout both series of Sherlock.

Kitty Riley, the journalist, and “Richard Brook” would have us believe that there is no such person as Moriarty and that Sherlock made him up for his own gains and purposes, made up all the crimes to make himself look clever and employed out of work actor Richard to play the role of Moriarty. The claims are backed up with CVs, newspaper articles and claims that Richard’s work can be found on DVD.

It is one of those great TV moments that really plays with your mind and attempts to make you doubt everything you have seen and heard before. Can it even make you doubt the great Sherlock Holmes himself? Surely not.

Those Cvs certainly looked realistic, and although they can be easily mocked up by anyone with a basic knowledge of computing, he had work dating back to long before he met Holmes. It would be easy and fairly simple to check out these references and confirm whether an actor named Richard Brook was working on the said shows. Are we to believe then, that Kitty is such an incompetent journalist that she wouldn’t do such a thing, wouldn’t even do her research and would therefore take Moriarty’s claims at face value? It’s a possibility. She does come across as rather ditzy and is clearly not very clever if she was so easily taken in by the Napoleon of Crime.

But what would happen when the article came out? This “shocking expose” of Sherlock Holmes, claiming that he was a fake and a fraud all along and that Moriarty did not exist, he was simply a poor actor who got exploited by the so called detective. The article would have millions of readers across the country. Millions of readers who also watch TV. If Richard Brook landed a role in a “major medical drama” as one of the newspaper articles we see a clip of claims, then surely there would be at least one or two citizens of Great Britain who might recognise him, who had watched this TV drama and who then saw his picture in the paper. If this man was not who he claimed to be, if this man had never been in that TV drama, had never appeared on television and was not recognisable to anyone except from when he was in the papers “dressed as Moriarty” for his trial at the Old Bailey, then surely someone would say something. Someone would write a letter into the paper. Someone would make a phone call, cause a fuss. More than one person, I should imagine. So what, then, is the explanation for this general lack of activity and uproar surrounding the article (which was published after the detective’s “suicide”)?

Perhaps there really was an actor named Richard Brook who appeared in all those shows, and Moriarty just stole his identity. This, however, would not explain why they looked identical to each other. It would be a big stretch of imagination to believe that Moriarty had managed to find a face double who was also an actor, and rather lucky of the consulting criminal, I might add.

There is one rather intriguing possible explanation.

Jim Moriarty and Richard Brook are not the same person. They are brothers.

It is a well known fact that in the “canon” – which is the name given to the 56 short stories and four novels that comprise the Sherlock Holmes series as written by Arthur Conan Doyle – Professor James Moriarty has two brothers. One is a station master, the other a colonel. Throughout both series of Sherlock, the show creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have gone out of their way to pepper the script with golden nuggets of references and injokes for Sherlock Holmes fans. They are great lovers of the canon and despite adding in bits of their own, have stuck very faithfully to the essence of the storylines and characters.

It might not be too far fetched then, to believe that they would consider writing in a brother or two for their master villain Jim Moriarty. Although the actor who portrayed the criminal – Andrew Scott – has categorically stated several times in interviews that he would not be returning in Sherlock Series 3, this doesn’t rule out the theory altogether. Fans of the show have already been told that the solution to the “final problem”, ie. How Sherlock survived that epic rooftop fall, was already filmed at the end of filming Series 2. It’s entirely possible therefore, that they shot some scenes involving Andrew Scott and explaining the Richard Brook issue.

In this theory, Richard Brook is an actor. He was in all those TV shows, theatre plays and all the items on his CV are genuine. The man we see in Kitty Riley’s flat however, is still Jim Moriarty, who is simply using and abusing his brother’s identity because it suits his purposes. And the man who arranged/orchestrated all those crimes and rigged the jury etc is still Jim Moriarty, not an actor hired by Sherlock Holmes.

This theory, therefore, exonerates both Sherlock Holmes and the great British public. (Surely we’re not that useless and idiotic as to accept everything we read in the paper without question and not to notice when someone claiming to be in a major television show is not recognised by any of us).

Whatever the outcome and explanation, it was certainly one of my favourite moments in British television for a very long time and judging by the huge following the series has amassed, other people felt the same, about this moment, this episode and all the other episodes that make up a fantastic show well worth watching.

Please note: I am not claiming to support nor deny this theory. I merely enjoy writing Sherlock Holmes essays. Thank you.