After returning to UK television with 8.1M viewers in the overnights on January 1, BBC One/Masterpiece sleuth drama Sherlock dropped by about 2M for yesterday’s sophomore Season 4 episode, “The Lying Detective.” The second outing of the new season pulled in 6M viewers for a 27.4 share on BBC One. It won the time slot but landed the lowest overnight ratings for the series since its 2010 debut.
At the same time, “The Six Thatchers,” the Season 4 premiere episode of the series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, has emerged as the most-watched program of the festive period across all channels in the UK. With figures consolidated, last week’s shocking debut episode — which came one year after the Emmy-winning Victorian-era stand-alone, “The Abominable Bride,” and three years following the Season 3 finale, “His Last Vow” — lifted its numbers to 11.3M viewers and a 37.8 share. That’s compared to “The Abominable Bride’s” 11.6M viewers.
Sherlock producer Sue Vertue said: “We are absolutely thrilled that over 11 million people tuned in to ‘The Six Thatchers’ on New Year’s Day and over the past week. It’s a show we love to make, so it’s fantastic that it’s also a show that people seem to want to watch, and we are incredibly grateful to all the fans that support it each series.”
BBC Director of Content Charlotte Moore added: “Sherlock is a jewel in BBC One’s crown, and I’m thrilled that for the second year running it’s the most watched show over the Christmas period. Huge credit to the creative genius of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who continue to raise the bar with each new series.”
“The Lying Detective” fell below the Season 1 second episode “The Blind Banker,” which scored 6.4M in the overnights but had a lower share at 25.6. We’ve seen this trend before of hugely popular shows slowing in day-of UK viewing (Downton Abbey) as delayed-play increasingly takes hold.
“The Lying Detective” — which precedes next Sunday’s Season 4 finale, “The Final Problem” — was met with strong press and social media reaction. The Guardian was full of praise, calling it “proper Sherlock” with “scores of hidden Easter eggs for repeat viewers.”
U.S. ratings for last night’s episode will be available later this week.
“The Six Thatchers” on PBS clocked 3.7M viewers New Year’s Day, a slight slip from Season 3’s opening crowd of 4M, which had set a franchise record in January 2014. It was, however, a 7% ratings gain compared to “The Abominable Bride” that aired on January 1, 2016.
The last Season 4 episode, perhaps forebodingly titled “The Final Problem,” airs this coming Sunday.
It has already been promised this will be the darkest Sherlock season yet. Whether it will be the last remains a mystery. The co-creators have been at once forthcoming and evasive. Gatiss recently said, “We would love to do more, but we’re genuinely not lying this time. We don’t know. It’s up to all kinds of factors. … It’s all here, but we’re just not sure.”
In London for the premiere of “The Six Thatchers,” Moffat added: “Who’s to say all the characters make it out alive at the end of the series? Anything could happen.”