Benedict Cumberbatch wants to play Sherlock Holmes for ever, assuming the hit TV show is “still being adored”.

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The 35-year-old actor loves portraying the detective in Sherlock “too much” to ever give up the BBC One series and he revealed filming for a third season will begin again in January.

He said: “I’ll always do Sherlock; it’s something I’m not going to give up on.

“I love it too much. It’s hard work, but it’s so rewarding and such a lovely bunch of people who do it.

“We love our fans and we love what it’s created. It’s an incredible thing to be part of; it doesn’t happen that often. Don’t worry; it’s not going to disappear.”

The 35-year-old star believes the series has a great chance of being a long-lasting programme because writer Steven Moffat started the season with younger versions of both Sherlock and his assistant Doctor John Watson (Martin Freeman) than in previous incarnations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

In an interview with US website TV Line, he added: “There’s no reason for us to stop if it’s still being adored and we still enjoy doing it.

“We only do three episodes at a time, so I think the normal fear of over-stretching the mark and just doing too many doesn’t apply.

“It’s good to leave people wanting more. I’d like to see Sherlock getting older. We’re starting quite young.

“It’s rare to see Holmes and Watson at the beginning of their relationship; we usually join them in their mid-to-late 40s or 50s. I’ve got a way to go. I mean, I’m only 35.”