'Sherlock' Season 3 UK premiere gets series-high ratings

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Two years of absence didn't hurt the "Sherlock" Season 3 ratings at all. Instead, the UK premiere on New Year's Day garnered the series' highest numbers ever and was the most-watched program in the country for both that day and the entire holiday season.

Overnight ratings for the BBC One broadcast (as reported by Deadline.com) show that 9.2 million viewers tuned in to see Sherlock Holmes ( Benedict Cumberbatch) return from the dead and reunite with Dr. John Watson ( Martin Freeman). The premiere episode, "The Empty Hearse," had a 33.8 percent share to dominate the day's broadcasts.

With peak numbers of 9.7 million and provisional final ratings indicating that "Sherlock" was also the highest-rated drama of the entire 2013-2014 holiday season, there's a chance that the show may have beaten creator Steven Moffatt's other hit, "Doctor Who."

Wednesday's holiday return was helped along by the Christmas Eve release of a 7-minute mini-episode, "Many Happy Returns." Taking place in the period between the Season 2 finale, "The Reichenbach Fall," and the Season 3 premiere, 1.5 million watched the episode on the BBC. Almost 5 million have tuned in via YouTube as well.

A second episode, "The Sign of Three," will air in the UK on Sunday (Jan. 5), while "Sherlock" Season 3 premieres on PBS in the US on Sunday, Jan. 19.

Photo/Video credit: PBS