Martin Freeman addresses ‘intense’ Sherlock gay fan theories

Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman)

Sherlock star Martin Freeman has spoken about struggling to deal with fans of the show who believed his character was gay.

The actor played Dr John Watson opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes on the BBC series, with the pair gaining a following from fans who believed the characters were romantically involved.

Martin Freeman: Sherlock fans considered lack of gay relationship ‘a betrayal’

Speaking on Desert Island Discs on Sunday (March 31), Freeman opened up about dealing with gay fan theories from “challenging” fans.

He said: “The reaction can be quite intense (…) which is a lot to live up to, because you cannot live up to it, you just can’t.”

Freeman added: “By the time we filmed the last ones, there were some fans who were so adamant… they knew that John and Sherlock were gay, they knew it, and they knew that Steven [Moffat] and Mark [Gatiss] were going to write an episode where we held hands off into the sunset together.”

He added: “So when that didn’t happen, there was a chunk of people going, ‘This is betrayal.’

“Some people invest a lot in it, and up to a certain point, that’s delightful. Beyond a certain point, it’s more challenging.”

Sherlock fans accused show of ‘queerbaiting’

The show has long teased hints of romance between the two characters, but diehard fans have accused writers of “queerbaiting” by alluding to the possibility of a same-sex love story that will never be fulfilled on-screen.

However, Freeman has always been clear on the issue.

Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman)

Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman)

Speaking to The Sun newspaper in 2015, he said: “They’re not actually f***ing. It is possible for people of the same sex to have a deep friendship without being attracted to each other.

“People are attracted to each other in all sorts of ways. You don’t necessarily want to [sleep with] someone because you love them. They respect each other, they bring different things to their friendship.”

Freeman added that he did not want to be interpreted as homophobic by shooting down the rampant online backing for the theory — with some hardcore ‘Johnlock’ fans resorting to fan fiction and erotic art.

He said: “It’s a friendship. Way more has been made in the ether of that relationship than has ever been put in the show.

“The trouble is as soon as you start getting into a dialogue about that, it sounds like you‘re somehow being homophobic.”

The show’s creator Steven Moffat said in 2015: “We walk into that one all the time. It’s a funny thing when a character for over 100 years has been saying, ‘I don’t do that at all.’

“He’s been saying it over 100 years! He’s not interested in [sex]. He’s wilfully staying away from that to keep his brain pure—a Victorian belief, that. But everyone wants to believe he’s gay.”

“He’s not gay. He’s not straight. And Doctor Watson is very clear that he prefers women. People want to fantasise about it. It’s fine. But it’s not in the show.”