After a two-year wait, Sherlock returned to UK television last night with the one-off Victorian era special, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride. The 90-minute episode drew 8.4M viewers on BBC One, which was good for a 34.7 share and made it the most watched program of the day. It was, however, down about 800K viewers in the overnights as compared to the Season 3 premiere in January 2014 which remains the series highest-rated episode to date. In a first for Sherlock, the special also debuted in the U.S on the same day; PBS will have Stateside ratings numbers early this week.
The Abominable Bride finds Benedict Cumberbatch’s high-functioning sociopath along with his sidekick Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman) in 1890s London. Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington), Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs) also turn up at 221b Baker Street in the period episode. Reception in the UK was roundly positive. The wait for more Sherlock won’t be quite so long; Season 4 is afoot with shooting due to begin this spring.
Last night’s special also was released in 100 cinemas across the UK and is due for a theatrical release in select moviehouses around the world. Next week, it heads to theaters in China where it is massively popular. The series’ last season was seen by over 98M Middle Kingdom viewers.
Back in the UK, the special was a holiday season boost after Christmas Day logged the lowest viewing figures since 2009. That included the final episode of ITV’s Downton Abbey which drew scored 6.9M viewers in the overnights and was the top Christmas program. Its final season starts on PBS in the U.S. tomorrow.
Sherlock is produced by Hartswood Films for BBC One and co-produced by Masterpiece. The Abominable Bride was co-written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Executive producers are Beryl Vertue, Gatiss, Moffat, Sue Vertue and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece.