Sherlock series 3 episode 1 The Empty Hearse programme guide

Mild #spoilers: Sherlock returns, the mystery of The Fall is revealed and we meet John's fiancé


Series three Episode 1/3 The Empty Hearse


New Year’s Day Wednesday 1 January 9:00pm BBC1

Two years after disgraced detective Sherlock Homes leapt to his apparent death from the roof of St Bart’s hospital, he has prepared a characteristically theatrical comeback.

But as his faithful followers celebrate his return, much to Sherlock’s annoyance the world has failed to stand still without him. His friend John Watson has been in mourning but he has also moved on with his life, and is now in love with one Mary Morstan – sensible, quick-witted and not at all taken in by Sherlock’s posturing.

As John absorbs the news of his friend’s return, and worries about the impact it might have on his plans for domestic bliss, Sherlock must reacquaint himself with the “great cesspool” that is London, before taking on a new and potentially catastrophic case – an imminent terrorist attack on the capital’s underground tube system.

And, of course, there’s that small matter of how Sherlock survived The Fall…

Radio Times Choice

The Empty Hearse couldn’t be more of a treat if it came wrapped in tissue paper and ribbon and was delivered to each of us individually by the Red Arrows. It’s a playful, funny, exhilarating 90-minute adventure with Benedict Cumberbatch, now a proper Hollywood star, oozing a new maturity and confidence as master of all he surveys.

It’s two years since Sherlock Holmes hurled himself from the roof of St Bart’s Hospital in London and, in Sherlock as in real life, theories are myriad and ridiculous (watch for writer Mark Gatiss’s sly little nod to the outer reaches of fandom and its endless propensity to write lurid fiction about Moriarty and Sherlock).

Despite an enveloping sadness, the bereaved John Watson (peerless Martin Freeman) has finally moved on. He’s grwon an unwise moustache and found a very wise girlfriend (Freeman’s real-life partner Amanda Abbington). But he’s haunted by thoughts of Sherlock…

Radio Times TV editor Alison Graham


Sherlock Holmes   Benedict Cumberbatch       Mycroft Holmes   Mark Gatiss
Dr John Watson Martin Freeman Molly Hooper Louise Brealey
Mrs Hudson Una Stubbs Mary Morstan Amanda Abbington
DI Greg Lestrade Rupert Graves Laura Sharon Rooney
Anderson Jonathan Aris

Writer   Mark Gatiss       Producer   Sue Vertue       Director   Jeremy Lovering