The idea of a modern-day American-set Sherlock Holmes, with a full-on junkie detective working as an NYPD consultant and a gimmicky female "Joan" Watson as his sober companion, had many rolling their eyes during its development. Elementary, however, has proven to be one of the year's happiest TV surprises. 24 weeks of spiky dialogue exchanged between the excellent Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, some tortuous mysteries, and fun guest slots from the likes of F. Murray Abraham and Vinnie Jones have given the BBC's Sherlock a serious run for its money (though the shows are very different). As Elementary heads into its second season, it has a new card to play: Rhys Ifans will be joining the team in the recurring role of Sherlock's brother Mycroft.
Mycroft is older than Sherlock and possibly even cleverer, but rather than chase around fighting crime he only ever goes to the Diogenes Club, which is within easy walking distance of his house. He seems to have government connections, however, and isn't above helping his sibling or averting a national crisis on occasion.
He only shows up twice in the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories - in The Greek Interpreter and The Bruce Partington Plans - but he's still been a familiar face on screen. Charles Gray played him in The Seven Percent Solution and in the ITV series with Jeremy Brett; Stephen Fry gave a revealing performance in A Game Of Shadows; and Mark Gatiss is the BBC's current incarnation.
Ifan's appearance in Elementary will mark the series' temporary decampment to London, where Sherlock will revisit an old case. In this version, it's Mycroft that lives at 221B Baker Street, and having his estranged brother to stay isn't top of his agenda. Watson finds herself right in the middle of the fractious relationship, as the Holmeses work out their drastic differences.
"I could not be more excited to have Rhys coming aboard," says showrunner Robert Doherty. "I've always been a tremendous fan and feel very honoured to have him in the fold. Equally excited are Jonny and Lucy, both of whom have worked with Rhys in feature films [Love, Honour and Obey and Hotel, respectively]. I think this is going to be a lot of fun for all of us."
The game is afoot in the US on September 26 on CBS.