Sherlock breaks Twitter record thanks to Derren Brown, ‘gay’ John and Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents

The return of the detective to BBC1 on New Year's Day drew 370,000 tweets, more than any other single episode of a drama series on UK TV

Until yesterday the highest tweet volume we had measured for a single episode of a drama series on UK television was 260,709 around the final instalment of Broadchurch last April. The 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who beat this figure, generating 509,756 tweets in November but this was a one-off special and helped by the fact it was simulcast in 94 countries!


New Years Day 2014 saw things change with the return of the long awaited third series of Sherlock. Although not quite managing to beat Doctor Who’s record, the response on Twitter to the consulting detective’s resurrection was nothing less than spectacular, shattering Broadchurch’s total volume.

A staggering 369,682 tweets were sent during Sherlock’s 85 minute transmission, peaking at 7,744 tweets per minute as the episode began. Averaging 2,046 tweets a minute, the show easily made it to the top of our New Year’s Day leaderboard generating almost six times the number of posts compared with the second placed Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part Two.

There were a fair few peaks in tweets during the episode. Of course the opening minutes saw the highest, but this was followed by the first “solution” to The Fall, featuring Derren Brown, hitting a peak of 5,900 tweets at 9:03pm, and Mrs Hudson’s certainty over John’s sexuality and his relationship with Sherlock, which peaked at 4,283 tweets at 9:16pm. Another substantial peak came during the newly created catchphrase “I don’t shave for Sherlock Holmes,” which saw a peak of 4,513 tweets per minute. As the episode ended, there was another peak of 6,871 tweets at 10:27pm. The chatter in the following half an hour was extremely high, leading to almost 133k tweets of the eventual 369,682 total.

In a round up of Twitter mentions, the official hashtag for the series, #SherlockLives, was used 98,533 times while Sherlock on its own and as a hashtag in total was used a massive 265,057 times. John only saw 23,447 mentions, while Moriarty’s brief appearance generated 11,761 tweets. Special mention to Derren Brown who saw himself mentioned 4,993 times.

The most RT’d tweet from the evening came from the BBC1 account, which saw 4,998 retweets of the post explaining that Sherlock’s parents in the show were played by Benedict Cumberbatch’s own parents. Interestingly the third most RT’d tweet (1,743 times) came from Derren Brown as he acknowledged his rather surprising cameo appearance. The biggest account to tweet about the show belonged to actor Simon Pegg, who tweeted he was watching to his 3.7 million followers.

To put Sherlock into perspective, the total amount of tweets the episode generated is something that we usually associate with football matches and scripted reality shows such as Made in Chelsea and TOWIE, not dramas based around characters dreamed up in the late 19th Century.

With only two episodes left of the series, it’s possible Sherlock will reach the 1 million Tweet mark during this third series. We’ll be tweeting stats during both episodes as well as a follow up blog detailing the entire series, so make sure to give us a follow if you want to keep up with the latest Twitter information on Sherlock and many other shows.


Kay Dekker is a social media TV analyst at SecondSync