In a tweet Monday, Sherlock producer Sue Vertue revealed some new information about the show's highly-anticipated third season.
There is no character named "Charles Augustus Magnussen" in the extensive Sherlock Holmes canon, but fans have pointed out the similarities between this character's name and the character "Charles Augustus Milverton," the "king of blackmailers" who appears in one of the short stories in the Return of Sherlock Holmes cycle. Given the show's timeline, and the fact that this character appears after Holmes reveals how he faked his death -- the cliffhanger ending of the show's second season -- it seems likely that Mikkelsen will be playing a version of the notorious criminal.
In the original story, Holmes describes Milverton as "the worst man in London":
Do you feel a creeping, shrinking sensation, Watson, when you stand before the serpents in the Zoo and see the slithery, gliding, venomous creatures, with their deadly eyes and wicked, flattened faces? Well, that's how Milverton impresses me. I've had to do with fifty murderers in my career, but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow.
Charles Augustus Milverton, as illustrated by Sidney Paget in The Strand magazine, 1904.
As Holmes describes the blackmailer, Watson notes that he "had seldom heard [his] friend speak with such intensity of feeling."
"I'll tell you, Watson. He is the king of all the blackmailers. Heaven help the man, and still more the woman, whose secret and reputation come into the power of Milverton. With a smiling face and a heart of marble he will squeeze and squeeze until he has drained them dry.
The fellow is a genius in his way, and would have made his mark in some more savoury trade. His method is as follows: He allows it to be known that he is prepared to pay very high sums for letters which compromise people of wealth or position. He receives these wares not only from treacherous valets or maids, but frequently from genteel ruffians who have gained the confidence and affection of trusting women. He deals with no niggard hand. I happen to know that he paid seven hundred pounds to a footman for a note two lines in length, and that the ruin of a noble family was the result.
Everything which is in the market goes to Milverton, and there are hundreds in this great city who turn white at his name. No one knows where his grip may fall, for he is far too rich and far too cunning to work from hand to mouth. He will hold a card back for years in order to play it at the moment when the stake is best worth winning.
I have said that he is the worst man in London, and I would ask you how could one compare the ruffian who in hot blood bludgeons his mate with this man, who methodically and at his leisure tortures the soul and wrings the nerves in order to add to his already swollen money-bags?"
So how will "Magnussen" fit into the show? Whom will he be blackmailing?
Vertue revealed this new character as the show begins filming the third episode of the season, which will be titled "His Last Vow," leading fans to suspect that Magnussen will feature prominently in the episode.
We still don't know the premiere date for Sherlock because the BBC/PBS/Moffat enjoy making fans anxious. At the Sherlock Comic-Con panel on July 18, the only date that was given was "Early 2014,":
October 31st is the RUMORED UK premiere date for the first episode of series 3, "The Empty Hearse," but this has yet to be officially confirmed by the BBC and it seems unlikely. Also, it's worth noting that Benedict Cumberbatch is (in his own words) being "very forceful" about allowing the new episodes to be broadcast simultaneously in the UK and the US.
"It seem churlish, really, to deny savvy Sherlock fans, who know how to break code and watch it illegally, to stop us from having an audience in America," Cumberbatch said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "There's a very hungry audience of all ages. Why they should be denied the pleasure because of some odd disjuncture, I don't know. I'm being very forceful about that and mentioning it in all the interviews. We're aiming for the end of December or early January, but we haven't had a date confirmed."