Sherlock draws a huge audience

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes

The third series of Sherlock has become the most-watched drama run on the BBC in more than a decade.

The three-parter - which included consulting detective Sherlock Holmes's apparent return from the dead - pulled in an average of 11.82 million viewers when it was screened earlier this month.

The BBC said it was its " most-watched drama series in over a decade". The "consolidated" figures include not only those who watched it live but also people who recorded it or used catch-up services over the following seven days from first broadcast.

Viewers saw the last episode climax with what appeared to be the possible return of arch-villain Moriarty.

Figures have already shown that the first episode of the series - starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as sidekick John Watson - had the biggest-ever catch-up audience, with 3.5 million watching since the first screening.

It had a consolidated audience of 12.72 million, while the other two programmes had 11.38 million.

BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore said: "This latest accolade is the icing on the cake and only further demonstrates the audience's huge appetite and appreciation for original British drama on BBC1."

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