It's often been said that there are two types of people in the world: the ones who think Luther is the best thing on British TV, and the ones who are wrong. OK, so I'm the only person who says that, but ever since Idris Elba's maverick detective breezed onto our screens in his awesome overcoat, making enemies of various women and every senior police officer in the Met, I've been obsessed.
That new series of Luther come around less often than a new Adele album has only added to the hype around his fourth adventure in 2016. So let's take a look at everything we know about season 4, as well as taking a look back at the first three seasons and asking whether the one and only Alice, the femme fetale with the sky-high IQ and a taste for murder, will be back where she belongs by John Luther's side in the new year.
Season 4: A tantalisingly brief return
Bad news out of the way first: season 4 will comprise precisely two episodes. Yup, two. That's not even a season, barely even a miniseries. It's the fleeting appearance you make at a family reunion before you realise you hate everybody present and slink away to the pub to get pissed and forget. But as Luther fans we take what we're given, something fans of Sherlock can also relate to.
Series creator and writer Neil Cross has promised series 4 will be "the biggest, scariest story yet" which pits John against "his most chilling adversary, pushing him closer to the edge than he's even before". Sounds pretty intense. Luther is the king of intense. He's flipped more tables than any other TV detective ever. He'd probably even put generally unflappable Sherlock on edge.
Dermot Crowley will return as the beady-eyed DSU Martin Shenk, who has the thankless job of keeping Luther out of trouble, whilst Benny Silver is back as tech wizard Michael Smiley. Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones, Utopia) is new to the cast for the two-parter as Emma Jones, which is all the info we have so far, but if reports are to be believed, Ruth Wilson isn't going to be involved - which is outrageous, given that Luther without Alice is a bit like quidditch without the two beaters: all balls, no blood. Still, we live in hope that this is merely a clever red herring and our favourite murderess will at least make a cameo.
Life after Luther - will we ever get that movie?
Ever since the beginning of the series, Neil Cross and Idris Elba have been clear about the fact that they feel Luther's ultimate destination is the big screen. The budget and scope of a movie is a good fit for a story more ambitious than most on TV, and Elba is a certified A-lister with plenty of audience appeal. If "season" 4 is Luther's last, a movie seems like the logical next step.
Then again, [Spooks: The Greater Good](tag:1169494) didn't exactly set the box office alight last year, and Ruth Wilson is busy filming Showtime's The Affair, so maybe the movie is on hold for a while.
Luther vs. Sherlock - the crossover that needs to happen
Strangely enough, the BBC's two most popular detective series actually have a lot in common, despite the fact that they seem to be polar opposites on first glance.
Sherlock is, ostensibly, a buddy cop show. The dynamic between Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and "my dear Watson" (Martin Freeman) is absolutely essential to the success of the show. In a weird way this mirrors Luther's twisted relationship with Alice across the first two seasons of Luther. Despite the fact that Alice murdered her entire family, John is drawn to her, whilst Alice is compelled to do something truly selfless for possibly the first time in her life in helping him deal with Zoe's killer in the season 1 finale. Thereafter, a friendship is born (with a hint of something more sexual). With Alice out of the picture in season 3, DS Justin Ripley steps up as John's protege and becomes somebody for him to bounce off - but frankly Ripley was never that interesting, and certainly no substitute for Alice.
Both shows also delight in keeping the audience on the back foot. Sherlock uses Arthur Conan Doyle's classic mysteries, most famously "The Reichenbach Fall" (series 2 x episode 3) to present us with a seemingly impossible riddle before gradually peeling away the layers. Luther also highly prizes the art of the plot twist, such as the stunningly tense closing scene in the superb season 2 opener, in which Erin Gray ventures into the suspected killer's flat whilst DS Ripley waits outside in the safety of the car. We follow Gray around the flat, convinced she's about to meet her demise, until she radios through to Ripley - and we see the masked killer pop up behind him in the back seat of the car. Writer Neil Cross is the master of building tension until it's almost unbearable.
So imagine what brilliance could be achieved if Cumberbatch and Elba came face to face in a Sherlock / Luther crossover episode (or movie) - Holmes' cunning and John Luther's fondness for flipping tables and storming through the streets of London in his incredible coat (which really must be in dire need of a good dry clean by now). Batman vs Superman, the London Met edition.
Hopefully there'll be more news on season 4 soon, including word on an airdate. In the meantime, what are your hopes for the two-parter? Will this be Luther's final outing on the small screen? Is it really Luther without Alice Morgan? And where can I get myself a coat like that? Leave a comment...