'Sherlock' producers Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue: Seasons 4 and 5 coming, but not soon

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Sorry, "Sherlock" fans looking for a swift return for Season 4 -- producers Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue aren't planning to rush the detective show back into production. While not ruling out a Christmas 2014 return for "Sherlock," it sounds like a later date is more likely.

Moffat and Vertue share the sad news in a recent interview with Collider.com. The producers also dish on busy actors and other work to do.

Don't expect a 'Sherlock' Christmas present

Rumors seeming to originate from the BBC (which produces "Sherlock") have indicated a return date for "Sherlock" Season 4 of Christmas 2014. Vertue isn't so sure that's a possibility. "I've seen that talk too. It's just a hope," she explains. "I can't see that we'd have a [season] by Christmas. But we'll do what we can. I'm not being secretive about it. I just don't know when we're going to shoot it."

Blame scheduling for everything

Shooting and availability schedules seem likely as the cause of all delays when it comes to "Sherlock." That's fair when you figure on the producers working on "Doctor Who" and the actors' growing film careers, plus Martin Freeman's starring role in FX's "Fargo." They still try to work around it.

"I've also got to do 'Doctor Who.' I've got no choice about that. That's the day job," Moffat says. "It's a matter of when everyone's available and when Mark [Gatiss] and I think we've got a strong enough script. We're quite picky. We want every episode of 'Sherlock' to be really, really good."

Audiences should not think that anyone wants to delay production though. "The will is there. They want to do more," Vertue says. "It's just trying to get everyone free at the same time ... Benedict [Cumberbatch] said, 'I'm free in February,' and I said, 'But we haven't got a script!'"

At least there are plans ...

While the producers don't know when they'll film Seasons 4 and 5, they do know what those seasons might look like. Moffat confirms that plans for Season 4 are set, and Season 5 is ready to follow:

"It's really [Season] 4 that we've got, but it throws forward to a terrifying [Season] 5. It wasn't a planned thing. We had just got out of the rain and because we don't have the lovely big trailers that Benedict and Martin have, we had to go sit in the accountancy department and we just talked about what we could do. We just started having what I think are the best set of ideas we've ever had. I think they're just wild. And when I say ideas, it's what stories we'll tackle, what big twists there will be, what gut punches there will be, and what surprises there will be, and I think it's really exciting."

Fans may just have to wait awhile for that excitement to hit their televisions. For now, the Season 3 finale of "Sherlock" airs Sunday (Feb. 2) on PBS.

Photo/Video credit: PBS