The Six Thatchers

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"The Six Thatchers"
Sherlock episode
Episode no.Series 4
Episode 1
Directed byRachel Talalay
Written byMark Gatiss
Based on"The Adventure of the Six Napoleons"
by Arthur Conan Doyle
Produced bySue Vertue
Featured music
Cinematography byStuart Biddlecombe[1]
Editing byWill Oswald
Original air date1 January 2017 (2017-01-01)
Running time88 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Abominable Bride"
Next →
"The Lying Detective"
List of Sherlock episodes

"The Six Thatchers" is the first episode of the fourth series of the British television programme Sherlock and the eleventh episode overall. The episode was first broadcast on BBC One, BBC First, PBS and Channel One[2][3] on 1 January 2017.


The episode opens with a monologue from Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) telling an abridged version of the Appointment in Samarra tale. Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) briefs Sherlock and a committee chaired by Lady Smallwood on the new 'official' story of Charles Augustus Magnussen's death ("His Last Vow") – the video footage has been doctored to make it appear as though Magnussen was shot by a sniper. John (Martin Freeman) and Mary Watson (Amanda Abbington) welcome the arrival of a baby daughter, whom they name Rosamund Mary. Following the events of "The Abominable Bride", Sherlock becomes obsessed with working out his archenemy Moriarty's (Andrew Scott) posthumous revenge, with Mycroft and Scotland Yard detectives including Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) assisting him in solving seemingly trivial cases, hoping it will lead them to a larger scheme. Meanwhile, John starts a relationship with a woman whom he met on a bus, implying an affair, though he later texts her to say that it's over.

Sherlock investigates a case in which the son of a Conservative cabinet minister is found dead in a car crash, despite seemingly being on a gap year in Tibet. Sherlock quickly solves the case, but is distracted by a missing bust of Margaret Thatcher at the victim's home, discovering that it was stolen and smashed upon the front porch. Four other identical busts are smashed and upon encountering and fighting the culprit, Sherlock discovers that the last bust contains a memory stick with information about Mary and her past as a government agent. The culprit, a former teammate, seeks revenge in the belief that Mary betrayed him. Upon being questioned by Sherlock, Mary explains that she was part of a freelance task force named 'A.G.R.A.', derived from the members’ names, Mary being 'R' for Rosamund (her real name) and 'A', her pursuer, Ajay (Sacha Dhawan). All members had a memory stick containing data on each other, in the event that one was betrayed. Six years prior, a rescue mission of hostages at the British embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia went wrong when a coup d'état (set off by a code word "Ammo") resulted in the presumed death of all A.G.R.A agents, save Mary. Sherlock tries to persuade Mary to not go after Ajay. Feigning agreement, Mary knocks Sherlock out with a drugged letter and escapes.

Mary travels across the world following a random path to cover her tracks. However, Sherlock and John find her in Morocco, having placed a tracking device on the memory stick, but so does Ajay. Ajay says that he was captured by the terrorists, but not before hiding his memory stick in one of the Thatcher busts which he intended to recover to track Mary, whom he blames for his capture. During his torture, Ajay heard whispers of "Ammo" and "the English woman" being the reason for the failure of the mission. Ajay attempts to kill the trio but is shot by police. They reflect on the events and realise that Ajay was working on the assumption that "the English woman" was Mary.

Sherlock calls Mycroft and explains that 'Ammo' is actually Amo, the Latin word for "I love". Lady Smallwood, whose codename is Love, is then questioned by Mycroft, but she proves to have no information about the coup. Sherlock later pieces the final part of the puzzle together when he recalls Mary mentioning the ability of receptionists to pick up and gather all kinds of information. He meets Smallwood's secretary Vivian Norbury in the London Aquarium. When the police and Mary arrive, Vivian reveals that she tipped the terrorists off in Georgia, using the code "Amo", on the rescue so that the hostages as well as 'A.G.R.A.' could be eliminated. Her motive was to kill the British ambassador who had found out that Vivian had sold national secrets. Vivian pulls a gun out and shoots at Sherlock, but Mary jumps in the way, taking the bullet. John arrives in time and Mary professes her love for being 'Mary Watson', before dying in his arms. As Sherlock had vowed to protect her, this creates a rift between him and John.

After Vivian's arrest, Mycroft returns home to find a sticky note reading "13th" on his fridge – he immediately picks the phone up and asks to be put through to "Sherrinford". Sherlock visits John's therapist but is reluctant to converse. Returning to Baker Street, Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson lament the loss. Sherlock opens a parcel containing a DVD with a posthumous message from Mary, in which she instructs him to 'Save John Watson'. He then goes to John's flat to offer him help but Molly opens the door with Rosie in her arms and gives Sherlock a letter from John, telling him that John wishes for anyone's help but Sherlock's. Returning to the story of the merchant, Sherlock concludes that death is inevitable but ponders if the circumstances are avoidable.



Series 4 was primarily filmed at Pinewood Studio Wales.

Several location scenes for this episode were filmed in London: scenes involving the bloodhound were filmed at Borough Market and Trinity Church Square in Southwark;[4] Cumberbatch was also filmed on Vauxhall Bridge running towards the SIS Building.[5] Also filming occurred in the Jemaa el-Fnaa square in Marrakesh, Morocco.[6]

References to Arthur Conan Doyle[edit]

Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair, notes that Holmes' request to be reminded of Norbury as an example of his over-confidence is a reference to "The Adventure of the Yellow Face".[7] "The Six Thatchers" is based loosely on "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons". At one point, Sherlock believes that the suspect is hunting for the black pearl, which he had been asked to look into earlier and dismissed as uninteresting, but it is soon revealed that the suspect is actually hunting for a memory stick containing information about Mary Watson's past.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

The episode premiered in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Latin America simultaneously. In the UK, it was premiered at 8:30 PM GMT on BBC One. In the US, it premiered at 9 PM ET/PT on PBS. In Australia, it premiered on subscription streaming service Stan at 10 AM AEDT on 2 January. In Latin America, it premiered at 1:00 AM GMT on BBC Entertainment.

The Six Thatchers received mixed reviews. The Guardian was positive, saying "Cumberbatch channels Bond in the most explosive outing yet".[8] IGN gave a mixed review a 5.5/10 calling it "Mediocre" and "Sherlock returns with a confused and confusing case involving Margaret Thatcher's head."[9] Digital Spy called it "satisfying enough" and saying "'The Six Thatchers' is an engaging outing with one fatal flaw. Everything works... apart from the one thing that really needs to."[10] The Telegraph gave a good review with a rating of 4/5 stars, calling it "a dizzying triumph of complex plotting."[11] After Ralph Jones, in an opinion piece in The Guardian, criticised the episode for making Sherlock into a James Bond-style action hero, Mark Gatiss wrote in personally and responded in the form of verse.[12]


  1. ^ "The Six Thatchers: full cast and crew". IMDb. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Sherlock: what do we know about the fourth series". Meduza. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  3. ^ "The fourth series of Sherlock on the Channel One". Channel One Russia. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  4. ^ "The dog in Sherlock series 4 was an absolute nightmare to work with". Radio Times. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  5. ^ Al-Othman, Hannah (28 April 2016). "Benedict Cumberbatch spotted filming Sherlock series four on Vauxhall Bridge". Evening Standard. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  6. ^ Hardesty, Edward (8 June 2016). "'Sherlock' season 4 spoilers: Morocco plays a part in the plot". Christian Today. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  7. ^ Joanna Robinson (January 2, 2017). "Sherlock: 11 Easter Eggs, Callbacks, and References You Might Have Missed in "The Six Thatchers"". Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  8. ^ Lawson, Mark (1 January 2017). "Sherlock review – Cumberbatch channels Bond in the most explosive outing yet". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  9. ^ Krupa, Daniel (1 January 2017). "Sherlock: "The Six Thatchers" Review". IGN. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  10. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (1 January 2017). "Sherlock review: Engaging but with one fatal flaw". Digital Spy. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  11. ^ Lawrence, Ben (1 January 2017). "Sherlock: Cumberbatch's return in The Six Thatchers was worth all the hype - review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  12. ^ Brown, Mark (4 January 2017). "Is Sherlock worse for too much action? Gatiss sends his verse reaction". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2017.

External links[edit]