Benedict Cumberbatch has hinted that the next series of
could be the last.
A fourth instalment of the hit BBC drama, starring Cumberbatch as the eponymous detective and Martin Freeman as his sidekick Doctor Watson, is expected to air early next year.
Cumberbatch, 40, told the November issue of British GQ that: "It might be the end of an era. It feels like the end of an era, to be honest."
While The Imitation Game star said he would "never say never" to reprising the role, he said the series felt "complete".
"It goes to a place where it will be pretty hard to follow on immediately.
"We never say never on the show. I'd love to revisit it, I'd love to keep revisiting it, I stand by that, but in the immediate future we all have things that we want to crack on with and we've made something very complete as it is, so I think we'll just wait and see.
"The idea of never playing him again is really galling."
The fourth series of the hit show will consist of three episodes, which the BBC has said will be "the most shocking and surprising... yet". Filming is expected to start in the spring.
Earlier this year, Steven Moffat, the executive producer of the BBC One show, said that he was "amazed" that the corporation had managed to secure "film stars" such as Cumberbatch, who plays the eponymous detective, and Martin Freeman, his sidekick Doctor Watson, for a fourth series, which is expected to air in early 2017.
He added: "I don't know how long we can keep it going. I'm personally willing but I'm hardly the main draw. I would be moderately surprised if this was the last time we ever made this show. But it absolutely could be."