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Published on July 11th, 2014 | by Nick Kitchen

What Does Sherlock’s Hidden Message Mean for Doctor Who?

Since Moffat and Gatiss first brought us a modern take on the most famous fictional detective of all time, fans of both Sherlock and Doctor Who have been fantasizing, nay, begging, for the two famous characters to meet on our TV screens.

Of course, this hasn’t happened yet and with Smith exiting the TARDIS, most believe it won’t. However, Radio Times is reporting a curious turn of events that will cause discerning Whovians to take notice.

End credits, aside from the “next time…” trailer, is a typically a vanilla and boring affair. And as often happens when a show from the UK is licensed in another country, a custom set of end titles is oft assembled. For example, PBS Masterpiece Theatre (not BBC America) is the primary source of Sherlock for American viewers. In order to keep with the very cool and artsy design that Masterpiece employs on their other programs, they requested that Moffat and company do a redesign to fit the Masterpiece aesthetic.

They complied and even added a little addition to the end credits of “The Empty Hearse,” the Series 3 opener. Careful observers will notice that certain letters as the end titles appear are red, whereas the majority of them are white font on the black Masterpiece background. This would be curious in itself, but there is more to the story. Those letters, when placed together in order of end credit appearance spell out something that will certainly peak a Whovian’s interest: “Weng-Chiang”.

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need us to tell you why that’s of interest, but in case your Doctor Who experience doesn’t travel back to the classics, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor encountered an evil deity (in reality time travelling war criminal Magnus Greel) named Weing-Chiang in the 1977 serial, The Talons of Weng-Chiang. The serial also stands out because it’s one of the only times Baker appears without a scarf, donning a Deerstalker style hat instead.

The question before us now is why go to the trouble of placing the red letters? Is it merely a fan service, since both Moffat and Gatiss are Doctor Who fans and contributors? Is it only to bring to mind Baker’s Sherlock look in the serial? Or is it something more? Is the message meant to suggest a potential storyline in Peter Capaldi’s debut series? Marcus Greel appeared to meet his doom in the original story – but has he found a way to survive the supposed disintegration? The video below breaks down the end credit sequence.

Watch it and let us know where you stand: a fan service message or a potential return of a classic villain?


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About the Author


“That’s bacon! Are you trying to poison me?” And from that line on, I’ve been unable to stop watching, reading, musing about the Doctor. As a recent transplant to the Whoniverse, I’ve been trying to soak up as much Who-related knowledge as possible. That journey has taken me from the Tenth Planet to the Fields of Trenzalore and gently set me at the edge of my seat for what’s next. It’s an honor to be here and I plan to bring a unique perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey alongside me.

8 Responses to What Does Sherlock’s Hidden Message Mean for Doctor Who?

  1. avatar TonyS says:

    Weng-Chiang featured a Giant Rat. We may be headed for Sumatra.

    • avatar Sutekh'sGiftOfUnlimitedRicePudding says:

      In this SHERLOCK episode, The Empty Hearse, Sherlock refers to Lord Moran as “the giant rat of Sumatra Road”.

      • avatar TonyS says:

        Oh yes. So he did.

  2. avatar Colin says:

    Ha! That’s clever, and I never even noticed. :) My take: Moff’s having a laugh for the benefit of the Whovians. He has already said that Sherlock and the Doctor couldn’t ever meet since Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character in the Doctor’s universe. However, there was the Andy Lane’s Seventh Doctor Virgin novel, ALL-CONSUMING FIRE, in which they meet. If that’s canon, then all bets are off. :)

  3. avatar Terry Cooper says:

    While it does spell Weng Chiang, I think it means nothing at all for either show, other than a little bit of fun by Gatiss and Moffat.

  4. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I think they just wanted to tease us and do just this, create speculation and watch us all run around being paranoid and suspicious. ;)

  5. In Doyle’s story “The Sussex Vampire” Watson refers the story of the giant rat of Sumatra for which the world was not prepared. Maybe it’s a double reference.

  6. Pingback: Geekritique News Roundup – Week of 07/06/14 | Geekritique

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