Setlock – Wednesday 21st August 2013 – “His Last Vow”

I travelled down to London the day before as I was volunteering all day in Portsmouth for the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection. That night, I stayed in a cheap but cheerful hotel at the top end of Gower Street, about a ten minute walk from Speedy’s. A friend of mine from Wales had come down and was also staying in the same hotel. We went out for a couple of drinks at the Sherlock Holmes pub then got a relatively early night, agreeing that we would meet on set sometime the next morning.

Nobody knew for certain what time they would be filming, so a lot of people got there quite early. Another friend of mine who lives in London had been hanging round North Gower Street since 5am. I got there at around 9 and hooked up with her as I’d been informed by text message she had something exciting to show me. They were already starting to set things up outside Speedy’s. The 221B signs were up and the Baker Street street signs. There was a crowd of about 50 people, but they hadn’t put any barriers up yet as it was still fairly manageable. The crew were friendly and allowing people to cross over the road to pose for pictures with the 221B on the door. They also told us that filming was likely to begin at 2pm.

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After hanging round there for about ten minutes, we walked round the corner about two blocks away and my friend showed me the Sherlock base that she had found at 6am that morning. All the trailers, wardrobe, make up and catering vans parked up on a side street just behind Euston station. It was very quiet with literally NO fans there at all when we arrived at 10am. We walked right along side the trailers, trying to casually peer in through the windows which were all very well covered up with blinds and we couldn’t see a thing. There wasn’t much activity going on – just a couple of security staff who mostly ignored us. One of the trailers had “1” on it and another had “2”. The rest didn’t have any kind of labels on. We debated for fun that maybe “1” was Benedict’s and “2” was Martin’s. We later found out that this was actually the case!

Logic dictated that before the cast went on the set for filming, they would need to come to the base to get changed and have their make up done, so we made the very wise decision to sit on the other side of the road in the shade and patiently wait, whilst everyone else filled up North Gower Street getting sunburnt and sweaty attempting to secure their place near the front. Everyone has their own way of operating and their own “plan” on the day and if you want the best spot to see the actual filming then that was probably the wisest move. What we ended up doing was moving around from place to place, swapping between the set and the base depending on the latest information we were getting from the setlock tag and word of mouth. It was a lot more fun doing things that way and felt like a big adventure.

And so we sat, just relaxing and talking about Sherlock. We were eventually joined by a small group of fans and there were around 10 of us in total. There was a car parked almost right in front of us that had a “BBC Vehicle” sign in the window. Then further up the street we spotted a taxi with one of the security guards chatting to the driver. We approached, and noticed this also had a sign that said “Film Vehicle”. It turned out this was the taxi Sherlock was hailing later on during filming.

At 12:45pm, our patience pulled off when a big shiny black Mycroft style car pulled up and Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue got out. They crossed the road and got into their trailer immediately but a few minutes later Moffat walked up the road towards Euston station (we’re not sure why), and a few of the fans collared him for photographs which he was happy to pose for. There was a group of five Italian girls who had come over especially. They posed for individual pictures with him and I had literally just crossed the road with the intention of taking a few pictures of them taking pictures. They were looking for someone to take a group shot with all of them and Moffat just pointed at me and said “you’ll do it”. It was more of a demand than a question but of course I accepted and took their massive and quite scary looking camera and attempted to operate it to get a decent shot of them all with the Moff. I got one of the girls’ e-mail addresses and she is hopefully going to send me the picture I took when she uploads them off her camera. Afterwards he said “thank you” to me and gave me a thumbs up then said thanks to all the girls and walked away.

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2pm: Mark Gatiss was spotted wandering between the trailers and a small group of us went over. He was his usual friendly self and happily posed for pictures with fans.

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2:30pm: We heard news from the Setlock tag that Moffat, Vertue and Gatiss had arrived on the set.

Next up, another shiny black car arrived and out came Martin Freeman, accompanied by his bodyguard and not yet in his costume. He gave a quick wave and a couple of people ran over but the staff got him into the trailer really fast. They were quite nice about it and said he’d be able to sign autographs and have pictures later but right now he needed to get ready.

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We never actually saw Benedict arriving. We can only assume they parked the car right at the end of the street where none of the fans were and that he walked BEHIND the trailers so that none of us could see him.

We did, however, see him leave in costume (complete with those awesome shades) at 2:45pm (so much for starting filming at 2). No time for pictures or autographs, he was whisked into a Mycroft car and driven away.

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Same with Martin five minutes later, in a different car.

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We now knew that everyone of importance was down there on North Gower Street, so we left our spot and wandered over there, nuzzling in with the crowd which was now 6 people deep. I was luckily taller than most of the people there, especially if I stood on tip toe, so I didn’t really have any problem seeing what was going on.

Sherlock and John come out of 221B. Sherlock looks up and down the road for a taxi, spots one, hails it. The taxi pulls up. He says something to John then opens the door and gets in, alone. The taxi drives off. John watches it for a while, then checks his watch and starts walking off in the opposite direction. Sometimes they alternated the direction John was walking in, but the taxi always drove off the same way.

They rehearsed it several times, Benedict without his coat on because of the intense heat – he only put it on for takes.

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After the rehearsals had finished, he came over to talk to the crowd and requested that they remain quiet during takes.

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They actually did a really good job. Before every take the security staff would wave for silence and everyone would fall into a hush. Then as soon as they shouted cut, everyone would cheer and clap and scream. It was quite insane, but the boys played up to it a lot.

On the first take, Martin purposefully made us all laugh. Whilst he was walking away, all serious and in character, he suddenly turned to look at the crowd, made a goofy face and stuck his tongue out. We were all trying really hard to be quiet because they hadn’t shouted cut yet but we kind of started tittering. That was totally his fault though – he trolled us!

Then they started making it a habit to do daft things at the end of takes – jumping in the air, doing silly dances, bowing overdramatically to the crowd when they cheered etc.

The filming started at 3:30pm. After having stood in the same spot for half an hour, I was already starting to get quite hot and uncomfortable as well as bored and fidgety. I thought I might be able to get a better view if I was on the other side as that was the way the taxi was driving when it left. They had now split the fans into two groups, both still on the opposite side of the road to Speedy’s, but on either side of another road that was still being used by members of the public and had to be kept clear.

So, I left my spot and walked right round the block. It was the only way to get to the other side and even though it was a long way round it was worth it when I got there because I found a quiet spot with only a handful of people and it was in the exact place the taxi drove. It also stopped right next to us at the end of each take before reversing back into position.

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This new spot was also conveniently next to the hotel on the corner of North Gower that was being utilised by the cast in between takes. Whilst the crew were setting up for a new shot, Martin and Benedict were walked inside by their security guards, which meant they literally walked right past us. It was the closest I’d ever been to Martin before and I had a seriously flailing moment afterwards when I realised how adorably cute he looked in the flesh.

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Once they’d set up for that particular shot though, our group was asked to move because we were in the way and we were put in a small alley way right at the side of Speedy’s. It wasn’t a great location because we couldn’t actually see anything and if we were to peer round the corner then we’d end up in shot, but I did have a few peeks round in between takes and at this point I realised that they were actually shooting a different scene now, because Benedict had got changed and he was in his Hobolock outfit. This scene involved him arriving in a cab, getting out and going into Baker Street.

We didn’t have to hide in the alley way for long, however, as once they’d finished shooting from that particular angle we were allowed to move again. At this point I got some nice shots of Martin as he went over to speak to a group of people.

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And a good shot of the crowd as I walked past them all to find myself another spot.

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At 5pm, we heard from someone that Martin had been seen getting in a car and driven off. We could only assume he had gone back to the base, which made sense as he wasn’t in this particular scene. We decided to head over there and check it out. On the way, we past a pub that had put this sign out.

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Returning to the base was definitely the right move, and one that a few other people had picked up on as well. Martin was there and he signed for the fans for about five minutes.

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At 5:30pm, I received a text message from a friend of mine still on set, that a car had just pulled up and they were attaching personalised number plates that said “1 CAM”. We could only assume this to be Charles Augustus Magnussen and we all got very excited intending to return to the set as soon as possible. But then we got totally distracted by spotting Anderson! With a beard!

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One of the group I was with literally went over to him and said “excuse me, are you Anderson?” And he laughed and replied, “Yes, yes I’m Anderson.” Then everyone mobbed him for about ten minutes and wanted tons of autographs and photos. He was very friendly about it all but looked a bit bemused with everyone saying how much they loved Anderson.

By the time we got back to set it was 6:15pm and they had amazingly already finished shooting that scene. Considering they’d spent three hours filming Sherlock getting in and out of taxis, they’d knocked this one off exceptionally quickly. So, I didn’t actually get to see it, but I was told it involved three people getting out of the CAM car – Magnussen and two heavies, and they then walk right into 221B. (Apparently they never keep their doors locked at Baker Street, you’d have thought they’d learnt by now).

So, there wasn’t actually anything going on when we arrived – the crew were just busy setting up for a different scene. Me and my friend found a really good spot on the same side of the road as Speedy’s but further down. We were stood on a wall and got a nice view. Then I almost fell off the wall when Amanda Abbington walked right past us and onto the set. We spotted her first before anyone and then she was almost instantly surrounded by fans all scrambling for her autograph and pictures. She was really SO nice and spent about half an hour making sure she did every single person who came over whilst security staff stopped any more people from joining the already large group. I just stood on my wall and took tons of photographs of her thinking how beautiful she looked!

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Someone came over to her and asked if she would mind signing something for her daughter who was stood in the crowd on the opposite side of the road and too shy to come and ask herself. This girl was only a kid, around 8 or 9. Amanda spotted her and instantly went over. So, we followed to get a few more shots.

She was really nice to the girl who then very nervously asked whether Martin might come over at some point too. Amanda replied, “Well, I do have a bit of an in with Mr Freeman, so I tell you what, if you all promise to be REALLY quiet…” And she looked at the rest of the small group that were in that section of the crowd (including us)….“then I’ll see what I can do.” Someone else noticed the ring on her finger and asked, “is that a wedding ring?” and she said, “shh, it’s a secret,” and grinned.

Then she walked off. Me and my mate just turned and looked each other excitedly, then stood on tip toes to watch what she was doing. We saw her approach Martin, talk to him, then moments later the two of them started walking back our way. OHMYGOD OHMYGOD I was having an internal freak out at this moment as I was literally right at the front of the barrier and Martin was just THERE. Because Amanda had asked us all to be quiet, we were literally completely silent and he was amazed. He said, “my God, it’s like a library in here. You are such a well behaved bunch.”

He talked to this kid for a while, gave her a high five and an autograph, then gave everyone else a bit of attention, signing stuff etc. At one point he used Amanda’s back to sign stuff on, which was a really cute moment. I didn’t have anything for him to sign so I said, “excuse me…” And he said, “yes mate?” I said, “would you mind if I shook your hand?” And he said, “Wow. This is what I like, you see, someone nice and polite. Of course, of course.” AND THEN WE SHOOK HANDS.

I turned back round to my friend and made a silent screaming face. My hand was all tingly where he’d touched it and she was just nudging me going, “get his autograph”, because everyone else was. “I don’t have anything for him to sign,” I complained. She looked at my white shirt and went, “get him to sign your shirt.” I thought about it for a split second then in an instant was tearing off my jacket and handing it to her. I borrowed a pen from someone, stuck my arm out towards Martin and said, “excuse me, would you mind signing my shirt?” He laughed and said “sure,” then took the pen. He wrapped his hand quite tightly around my arm to hold the shirt in place and make sure it was taught for him to write on, then signed it with his other hand. It was INSANE. I actually text my mother afterwards and said “Martin Freeman just had his hands all over me.” Purposefully left out the specifics because I thought it sounded funnier that way.

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Shortly after that he and Amanda left and walked back over towards the rest of the crew. I actually had to go and sit down because my hands were shaking uncontrollably and my legs felt all weak and wobbly. It was really amusing though because as I went to sit down I did actually stumble and almost ended up falling. I kind of felt like John at the end of Great Game. We sat there for a while just trying to get in our heads what had just happened.

We’d hardly had time to settle down when Benedict was spotted walking over to our section of the crowd, accompanied by Amanda again as she had told him about the young kid. All I can say is, thank God we were stood near that kid, because she enabled us to get the best photographs and the best opportunities! Because we’d gone to sit down, we weren’t exactly in the greatest spot when Ben was there – there were a couple of people in front of me. I had my arm out all ready for him to sign, but didn’t get the chance. I did get a few shots however, and witnessed a cool moment. There was a girl stood behind me who shouted to get his attention – fair play to her. She had drawn a really amazing pencil drawing of Benedict. And it was honestly quite exceptional and extremely accurate. She handed it over to him and he just completely wowed whilst looking at it, told her she was extremely talented then offered to sign it for her.

At this point I was actually very pleased for the position I was in, because the girl behind me couldn’t quite reach to give Ben the drawing, even with him reaching out over the crowd at the same time. So, I acted as a go between. I took the drawing from her and handed it direct to Ben. He said “thank you” to me. Then, when he offered to sign it, I took the pencil from her and handed it to him too. At this point, OUR FINGERTIPS BRUSHED. GAHHHH. Yeah, that was a pretty cool moment. I mean, I’ve already met him and shook his hand before when I went to the Cheltenham Literature Festival, but the fingertip brush was almost even better than that, because it was accidental. I also noticed the large amount of dirt he had under his fingernails to complete the hobo look.

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After that he did a couple more autographs before being led away by the security staff saying they had to go. We were then told they’d finished filming at this location and would be moving to an underground car park for indoor filming where there wouldn’t be any access to the public and there was no point hanging around. By this time it was 7:45pm and would be getting dark soon.

We instantly headed over to the base again knowing that at some point they would have to come back and get changed. God knows how they manage to sneak Ben in and out of his trailer and wardrobe etc because we literally didn’t see him again, at all, despite seeing his car drive up and down the road twice. I still think they drop him at the top and he walks down shielded by the trailers from view. We didn’t see Martin arrive back either, but we saw him leave once he’d got changed into his normal clothes. He waved goodbye and gave thumbs up to us all then got into a car and was driven away.

A couple of people I knew came over and said they knew where the next location was – the underground car park, and they were all going there. Of course, we tagged along, but by the time we got there, we were informed by another group that were already there that they’d been really quick and completed the filming already. Just one short scene inside. All they could tell us was that they’d seen Amanda leave. They didn’t know anything about the scene itself.

We wandered back to the base where everything was finishing up for the night, the crew getting all the trailers ready to disembark and move out. We hung around until they’d all left and managed to get this sneaky picture of the inside of the costume trailer through the half open door. You can just about make out the arm of Sherlock’s coat, hung up on the rack.

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So, that was it. Setlock was over. The end of an amazing, fantastic and fun filled, action packed day. I’d had the most brilliant experience and despite being physically exhausted I was buzzing on a mental high and couldn’t get to sleep. Having witnessed the phenomenon that is Setlock first hand, I can honestly say that I would definitely go again!

IT WAS SOOOOOO GOOD!!!!