'Sherlock' Ends Season 4 With U.K. Ratings Low, BBC Investigating Leak of Russian Version

'Sherlock'

"BBC Worldwide takes breaches of our stringent content security protocols very seriously and we have initiated a full investigation," says the commercial arm of the British public broadcaster.

BBC hit show Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, ended its fourth season Sunday with its lowest-ever overnight U.K. ratings as the U.K. public broadcaster said it was investigating an online leak of a Russian-language version of the episode.

The leaked episode started appearing online Saturday with a short promo for state-run Channel One TV, which airs the show in Russia. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, said it was looking into how the leak happened. "BBC Worldwide takes breaches of our stringent content security protocols very seriously and we have initiated a full investigation into how this leak has occurred," it said in a statement. 

Sherlock producer Sue Vertue tweeted: "Russian version of #Sherlock TFP has been illegally uploaded. Please don't share it. You've done so well keeping it spoiler free."

In 2014, BBC Worldwide took disciplinary action after a leak that made scripts for several episodes of the then- new season of hit show Doctor Who available online.

The drama drew its lowest number of U.K. viewers in the overnight ratings, attracting 5.9 million on BBC One in the 9 p.m. Sunday slot, according to data shared by the BBC on Monday. The previous Sunday, the second episode of the latest season had reached 6 million viewers in the overnight ratings, which at the time was the lowest such figure for the show.

In terms of share of the total U.K. TV audience, the weakest episode of the drama remains the second of season one, which drew a share of 25.6 percent, lower than Sunday's 27.2 percent share.

Affecting the TV ratings for the season closer were theatrical screenings. It wasn't immediately clear how many viewers they drew, but those viewers weren't included in the TV ratings data.

The ratings for the hit drama always rise sharply in the consolidated ratings for a full week. The 90-minute opening episode of season four had drawn 8.1 million viewers in the overnight ratings, but that grew to 11.3 million in the consolidated figures.

Sherlock, which in the U.S. airs on PBS, is produced by Hartswood Films. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are writing and executive producing the series.

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