WARNING. THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR SHERLOCK, SERIES THREE.
Last night was probably one of the most exhausting, yet amazing, nights of my life.
The usual set reporters for Doctor Who (Ryan, Gareth, Aimee) and I decided to venture into the world of Sherlock set reporting - also knows as #Setlock - in Portland Square Bristol last night.
We've been to Portland Square before - for a few scenes in the most recent Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Snowman. Remember when Clara had to jump up to the invisible ladder? That was there. And it was reported by us and several other Doctor Who fans.
When we first arrived, it was a little after 2pm. We heard it was going to be a night shoot, and didn't want to get there too early. Admittedly, nothing was happening. We saw paper lanterns hanging on trees, blue fairy lights, and tables full of food. First we thought it looked like a garden party... but then the crew started making a bonfire. A huge bonfire. The crew also seemed a little on edge and it was clear why. The scene(s) they were filming tonight were dangerous, long, and bitterly cold. They couldn't afford for anything to go wrong, so we respectfully kept our distance, and went to sit in the car when we could.
Though there was only about 10 fans watching, the number grew dramatically the later the night wore on. We heard that the cast will be arriving on set shortly after 6pm, so there was a buzz in the air - both on location and on Twitter. Amusingly enough, stunt doubles for Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman arrived on set first - which convinced a number of fans (even myself!) that the real actors were on set.
I think the moment everyone was looking forward to was seeing the huge bonfire lit up in flames. It even had a Guy Fawkes dummy on the top! I spotted a poster, proclaiming it was a Bonfire Night party - held on Tuesday 5th November at St James The Less Fields in London.
Then two actors arrived. Benedict Cumberbatch and Amanda Abbington. Why was Amanda Abbington there? Could she-? No... Maybe...? Could she be Mary Morstan, John Watson's wife? Yes - we hear someone call her "Mary"! She is! Brilliant!
Benedict asked a friend on Twitter to tell the fans to not upload spoilers and pictures to the internet. This caused a lot of fuss on the #Setlock tag on Twitter. Fans tweeting from "Post pictures!" to "How dare you post pictures?" in the space of two minutes. Luckily, this seemed to die down, as most of the fans on location were aware they were on a film set, and they needed to respect the cast and crew. I personally didn't take any pictures, except for this blurry one very early on (of the unlit half-built bonfire), as I don't have a fancy camera and I'd rather watch the action, instead of taking pictures. Everything that I'm posting here in this blog has already been posted several times by other users, and it's even in the newspapers today, so I can't see much harm in blogging my own view.
Shortly after, our favourite special effects supervisor, Danny Hargreaves, began lighting the bonfire with some specially rigged gas vents placed strategically under the wood. The actual bonfire was held up by a large metal structure, and the inside was hollow. We soon found out why.
The location grew quiet - extras, crew and fans were looking at the flames, basking in it's warmth, and trying to ignore the cold. The director yelled "Action!", and Benedict and Amanda pushed themselves through a crowd of extras - who were enjoying a lovely bonfire night in London - and started yelling, panicked, at the bonfire. "Move, MOVE!" as they both pushed past. They reached the bonfire quickly, with extras looking shocked behind them.
"JOHN! JOHN!" they both cried. We all glanced at each other, bewildered. And then it clicked. John Watson was inside the bonfire. Sherlock was being a hero and saving his unconscious and trapped friend. The stunt doubles for Sherlock and John were clearly needed - Sherlock started to pull away the wood on the bonfire, and dragged poor Watson out of the smoke and flames. The stunt double for Watson looked in bad shape - he had blood on the side of his head, he was covered in smoke and ash, and when he gets pulled out of the fire, he looks unconscious.
Before the majority of the above was filmed, the crew asked all the fans (they had grown in number by then) to take part in the scene and be extras/supporting artists! Of course, we couldn't turn down an offer like that. Even if we didn't want to be on camera, we wanted to get closer to the fire. We had to react to this madman pulling out a body from the fire, with a woman beside them screaming. It was pretty easy - because the actors were so convincing. No matter how many times they filmed this scene, their energy and passion didn't dim once. They were brilliant. We looked onto the action, shocked, horrified, concerned. Some of us ran away, some edged closer, as if trying to help the poor man. It was a very interesting scene to be in!
Martin Freeman then showed up on location - quite late into the filming day - to replace the poor stunt double for some close up shots, after he was pulled out of the fire.
At one point, Benedict did sign autographs for the fans-now-extras, which was so lovely of him. I offered him a torch to sign autographs, as he was having difficulty in the dim light. Although I didn't get an autograph myself (he was called back on set, joking "I'll be here all night!" to the disappointed fans) I really enjoyed the short and friendly conversation I had with him. He's lovely.
After the huge bonfire scene was completed, the cameras then focused on the extras' expressions and reactions. This was our moment to shine! Myself and a few other extras kept ourselves entertained by planning what we were going to do. I hope you can spot us when it airs on television! I wore a silly winter hat and had a glowstick. I hope it's enough to spot me behind the smoke and flames!
We noticed the crew had a running lunch from about 9:30 until 11:30, so shortly after our "scenes", we escaped to the car to sit down and warm up. It then hit us just how cold and achey and stiff we all were from standing in the cold for so long. We realised there probably wouldn't be much else to see, so we made the executive decision to call it a night and head home.
On the journey home, I was exhausted, but I couldn't believe how lucky we were. The first time we found Sherlock filming, they filmed a hugely significant and dangerous scene, and we got to be extras in the background. I couldn't ever imagine that happening!
I then checked Twitter, too. I literally gained about 75 followers, all in the short space of a few hours. Sherlock fans are passionate, I'll give them that! Thanks to everyone for the lovely messages. It really made the cold, bitter night worth it.