Seaon 4 of Emmy-winning BBC One/Masterpiece drama — and worldwide phenom — Sherlock has been set for a day-and-date debut in the U.S. and UK on January 1, 2017. The first episode, titled The Six Thatchers, will see the reunion of Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous high-functioning sociopath and Martin Freeman as his sidekick Dr John Watson.

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Masterpiece
As with previous seasons, Sherlock the 4th will be comprised of three new episodes which promise “laughter, tears, shocks, surprises and extraordinary cases,” the networks said in announcing the start of shooting last April.

When Cumberbatch, co-star Amanda Abbington and co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss were at Comic-Con this July, they unveiled the Season 4 trailer and agreed that this season will be the darkest thing the showrunners have ever written for the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle — “a real emotional roller coaster,” said Cumberbatch, but, Gatiss added, “with jokes.”

Much as they have for previous seasons, Moffat and Gatiss let slip that there were three keywords for this go-round: Thatcher, Smith and Sherrinford. Previously, in May this year, it was announced that Toby Jones had joined the cast as a villain.

Ghosts have also been said to figure heavily in the new season (Moriarty?). Moffat and Gatiss in April appeared to tease this could be the final season for the group, saying, “This is the story we’ve been telling from the beginning. A story about to reach its climax.” However, the typically cryptic duo had also previously said they see the series continuing for a long while and at Comic-Con clarified that they’ve never said Season 4 would be the last and that they didn’t mean to imply it.

Cumberbatch then made headlines for a GQ interview in which he said this season “might be the end of an era,” but added, “I’d love to revisit it, I’d love to keep revisiting it, I stand by that, but in the immediate future we all have things that we want to crack on with and we’ve made something very complete as it is, so I think we’ll just wait and see. The idea of never playing (Sherlock) again is really galling.”

Produced by Hartswood Films, the series made a triumphant return to television on New Year’s Day this year with a special episode that scored 8.4M overnight viewers on BBC One. It was the most watched program over the holiday season with 11.6M consolidated viewers and the highest ever audience share for the series.

The 90-minute installment, The Abominable Bride, was then released theatrically and notched big box office, notably in China and Korea. The series is wildly popular around the world and this is expected to factor in the offshore box office of Doctor Strange which opens this weekend with Cumberbatch in the lead.

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride also won the Emmy for Best Television Movie in September.