BBC’s "Sherlock" and Europeanness: A Case Study on the Circulation of a European TV Crime Series in Italy


  • Luca Antoniazzi University of Bologna
  • Sara Casoli University of Bologna



Sherlock, TV Series, Cultural Encounters, Europeanness, Britishness


This paper considers BBC’s Sherlock (2010-2017) to intervene in debates on European identity and the transnational circulation of popular culture. The series, one of the most recent and successful television adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, is set in contemporary rather than Victorian London. It represents an example of both ‘quality’ international television and ‘prestige’ British popular culture. As noted by other writers, among the characteristics that enabled the commercial success of the series is its capacity to merge nostalgic elements deriving from the widespread imagery of the ‘original’ Sherlock Holmes with new and innovative textual components (e.g. use of digital technology, social media). The paper considers how Sherlock negotiates between tradition and innovation by bringing together past and present. It argues that such negotiations could perhaps be considered a mark of Europeanness, understood as a process of negotiating national identities. The paper then looks at the reception and circulation of Sherlock in Italy through the lens of cultural encounter theory. The series can be considered a success in terms of ratings and audience share. To some extent Sherlock has triggered both reflections on British television and self-reflections on Italian culture. Nevertheless, from the data we have collected, we observe that such reflections, however significant, remain limited.

Author Biographies

Luca Antoniazzi, University of Bologna

Luca Antoniazzi is post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of the Arts, Università di Bologna, Italy. He was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of Leeds. He works on international media circulation and on Italian television performers. His previous research focused on film heritage and cultural policy. He has published on these topics both in Italian and international journals: his articles appeared in Information, Communication and Society, Museum Management and Curatorship, The Moving Image and Cinergie.  

Sara Casoli, University of Bologna

Sara Casoli is post-doctoral Research fFllow at the Department of the Arts, Università di Bologna, Italy, where she collaborates to the DETECt project. In 2019 she earned her PhD at the University of Bologna. Her main research interests concern popular seriality, television studies, transmedia characters and popular culture. She is the author of Le forme del personaggio. Figure dell’immaginario nella serialità televisiva contemporanea (Mimesis, 2021) and has published articles for international journals like Fata Morgana, Imago, Spiel – Neue Folge. Eine Zeitschrift zur Medienkultur, E/C, and many chapters in edited collections.




How to Cite

Antoniazzi, L., & Casoli, S. (2021). BBC’s "Sherlock" and Europeanness: A Case Study on the Circulation of a European TV Crime Series in Italy. Cinéma & Cie. Film and Media Studies Journal, 21(36/37), 19–40.