After a near three-year wait (not including last year’s one-off special The Abominable Bride), Sherlock returned to UK television last night with a bang.
Season 4 of the BBC One series kicked off on New Year’s Day with the 90-minute episode “The Six Thatchers.” Overnight ratings show 8.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the anticipated return of Benedict Cumberbatch’s eccentric detective along with sidekick Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), making it yesterday’s most-watched show. Rave reviews claim the wait was definitely worth it, though the numbers were off about 300K viewers in the overnights compared to last year’s one-off Victorian era special Sherlock: The Abominable Bride. It was also down 1.1M from Season 3’s opener “The Empty Hearse,” which aired on New Year’s Day in 2014 and remains the show’s highest-rated episode to date.
“The Six Thatchers,” which also aired yesterday in the U.S. on Masterpiece, picks up following the events of the Season 3 finale His Last Vow, which saw Sherlock exiled from Britain very briefly before being called back as a mysterious “Did you miss me?” message from arch-villain Moriarty appeared all over the UK. It’s packed with modern twists on Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective and Watson, as well as Watson’s wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) and their new baby.
Produced by Hartswood Films, the Season 4 opener was directed by Rachel Talalay and written by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, who both exec produce. The new season will be delivered in weekly installments followed by “The Lying Detective” on January 8 and the finale, “The Final Problem,” on January 15.