Sherlock: The Abominable Bride is most watched programme across all channels over festive period

Period instalment of the Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman favourite has the highest audience share for a Sherlock episode ever

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Sherlock has cracked it. The New Year’s Day special The Abominable Bride was the most watched programme over the Christmas period with a total of 11.6m viewers.

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The consolidated viewing audience for the Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman spectacular proved to be the most popular programme shown between December 21 and January 1 but it is not the most watched episode in the show’s history however. It was pipped by the first episode of series three, The Empty Hearse, which achieved a consolidated audience of 12.7m in 2014.

But The Abominable Bride – which had an overnight rating of 8.4m before the figures were consolidated – did have the highest ever audience share for a Sherlock episode, at 40.2%. 

The production team said it was very pleased with the figures for the episode which appeared to take the sleuthing duo back to Victorian London as Cumberbatch’s Sherlock was engaged in a reverie involving a case of vengeful wives and another deadly battle with arch enemy Moriarty (Andrew Scott).

Producer Sue Vertue said: “We are thrilled to be a hit in both 2016 and 1895.”

BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore added: “After a two year wait, it’s incredible to see the indisputable power of Sherlock bringing the nation together to make it the biggest show of the festive season. It’s a tribute to the talented team behind this much loved show.”

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The next biggest programme of the festive season was the New Year’s Eve London fireworks display which had a consolidated audience of 11.4m.