'Sherlock' Season Finale Reaches 8.8 Million Viewers on BBC

New Blood

In addition to welcoming Mary Morstam (Amanda Abbington) into the fold, Sherlock also will introduce Sherlock's nemesis Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelson).

The third season of the detective drama with Benedict Cumberbatch on the U.K. public broadcaster outperformed past seasons, even though the final episode drew a slightly smaller audience.

LONDON -- The final episode of the third season of BBC hit show Sherlock reached an average of 8.77 million viewers on Sunday.

The third episode of the season brought in slightly fewer viewers than the second episode, which had attracted 8.84 million people in the overnight figures. But the third season still drew bigger audiences overall than the first two runs of the detective drama.

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Benedict Cumberbatch will return as Sherlock Holmes, with Martin Freeman once again starring as Doctor Watson, in a fourth season, the BBC has said.

The premiere of the third season had reached the biggest-ever U.K. audience of the show, with 9.2 million viewers. That outperformed the series' previous ratings record for the opening episode of season two by nearly half a million viewers.

Sherlock has also drawn much social media activity in the U.K. with its latest season.

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Season one drew its highest overnight viewing figure with an audience of 7.5 million in the U.K. for the opening episode. The second season averaged more than 8 million viewers.

In the U.S., the third season will debut on PBS on Sunday.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai