‘Sherlock’ Makes Explosive Return To BBC In Series’ Most-Watched Episode Ever

SherlockBenedict Cumberbatch came back to life as Sherlock Holmes in The Empty Hearse, the first episode of Season 3 of Sherlock which aired on BBC One on New Year’s Day. The 90-minute installment was the series’ most-watched episode ever in the UK. Overnight ratings show that 9.2M viewers tuned in to learn how the high-functioning sociopath faked his own death in the last episode of Season 2, The Reichenbach Fall — and to witness his reunion with Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman). The Empty Hearse drew a 33.8% share to be yesterday’s most-watched program, peaking at 9.7M viewers, while provisional figures also make it the the most-watched drama of the whole holiday period in the UK. The run-up to Sherlock‘s return has been frenzied, with the BBC providing a host of goodies to fans who have waited nearly two years to revisit the character. A mini-episode titled Many Happy Returns was released by the BBC online on Christmas Eve and as of December 31st had been viewed over 1.5M times across the BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button with millions more watching on YouTube. The next 90-minute Sherlock Season 3 episode, The Sign Of Three, airs in the UK on January 5th. Season 3 begins in the U.S. on PBS on January 19th. Until then, beware abundant spoilers around the Web. Here’s another look at the interactive trailer for S3 that the BBC put out in December:

Comments (20)

  • I thought it was bloody brilliant. The resolution to the cliffhanger was good, more comedy, a little less suspense than what it usually is, but that didn’t matter. It’s in great shape.

    Comment by Liam — Thursday, 2 January 2014 13:25 UK  
  • Absolutely the best written show on TV. I’m thankful it’s back but wish the season could be longer than three episodes. That said, even one episode of “Sherlock” is worth a whole series run of most of the poop we get foisted upon us in the US.

    Comment by Colin — Thursday, 2 January 2014 13:56 UK  
    • It’s shameful how much better British broadcast television is compared to US broadcast television. Each episode of Sherlock is better than most of the movies Hollywood produces every year.

      Comment by hoya — Thursday, 2 January 2014 14:43 UK  
      • US audiences get culled programming. Try watching That Puppet Game Show or I Love My Country.

        Comment by Alex — Thursday, 2 January 2014 18:20 UK  
        • Exactly. It’s like if all they knew of US TV was Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game of Thrones. They’d think we’re geniuses too.

          Comment by Steve — Thursday, 2 January 2014 23:15 UK  
      • You don’t watch much British TV do you?

        Comment by chrs — Thursday, 2 January 2014 18:23 UK  
        • I love British TV and Love Sherlock…watched series on Hulu….when will the new season come to Hulu

          Comment by susan palmer — Sunday, 5 January 2014 21:26 UK  
      • REALLY? And why is that?
        Is it the one note, endless Daffy Duck on Red Bull interrupted by thousand yard stare of Cumbersome’s always the same performance?
        OR, is it the overly intricate, nonsensical Dr.Who like plots which unravel without common sense or coherence? ( The greatest plan hatched by Satan was to construct a politically correct AND dumbed down society wherein the people no longer have a clue as to what excellence is and are cowed into silence or mindless assent when confronted with mediocrity masquerading as art.)
        Perhaps it is Freeman’s one note impersonation of “Hamster” from Top Gear?
        Here’s hoping Moriarity and Holmes finally end the flirting and head off to Pasadena so they too can marry on a Rose Bowl Parade float.

        Comment by H. Poirot — Thursday, 2 January 2014 18:51 UK  
        • hahahahahaha so write a script for the show already, wake up the sheep

          Comment by Shawna — Monday, 20 January 2014 04:05 UK  
      • Having spent several weeks in England last year I can state that much of the programming I saw was repetitive, uninspired, and even painful to watch at times. I suspect there and here, it’s much like the Golden Age of American television from the 1950s – some great shows and memorable broadcasts but also much dreck that has been mercifully forgotten.

        Comment by Floretta — Sunday, 5 January 2014 23:01 UK  
      • Have you watched, “House of Cards?”

        Comment by Anonymous — Friday, 10 January 2014 22:59 UK  
  • True.

    What’s also amazing is that the showrunner is the same guy writing the past season of Doctor Who, which despite high ratings, was a total mess story-wise.

    Comment by Mr_Explosion — Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:59 UK  
    • and you dont think this episode of sherlock was a mess story-wise ? i would advise you to think it over just a little bit.

      Comment by dremmy — Monday, 6 January 2014 18:27 UK  
  • Watson’s first name (in the ACD books) is James, not John. Why was it changed? Trivia aside, it’s a great show and I’m glad to hear it’s continuing.

    Comment by Clay Jones — Thursday, 2 January 2014 22:02 UK  
    • His name absolutely is John in the books. His wife calls him James in a single book, but many think that was just a mistake by ACD, or that it was a reference to his Gaelic middle name. He’s John Watson in every single depiction of the character to date.

      Comment by Steve — Thursday, 2 January 2014 23:19 UK  
      • ….Except when They made John a woman and she became Joan Watson. :)

        Comment by Herb Finn — Friday, 3 January 2014 04:41 UK  
        • Joan Watson is her middle name. Her full name is
          Joan Watson Television.


          Comment by Sam Peickovifz — Friday, 17 January 2014 18:44 UK  
  • November 5..remember remember :)

    Comment by Anonymous — Friday, 3 January 2014 11:00 UK  
  • im sorry to say it, but the first episode wasnt great. it was hardly even good either. ive been following sherlock since 2010 and im sorry to say that it discarded what good it had going in the last two seasons in this episode. it was badly written, overly comedic where it should have been dramatic and suspenseful. most characters were written and/or acted out of character as seen previous. recently sherlock and its promotion has been harmful towards its community which is the stupidest thing a show can do, and ive lost all trust.


    Comment by dremmy — Monday, 6 January 2014 18:26 UK  
  • Totally agree and I’m English! With so many channels now you would think we’d be spoilt for choice but the same rubbish and films are shown over and over again. The BBC and Sky are guilty of that too. The best thing on TV currently is Silent Witness and the Swedish/Danish
    programme The Bridge. The second Sherlock I may need to watch again as I moaned through most of it.

    Comment by Janina Newson — Wednesday, 8 January 2014 19:32 UK  

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