SherlockBenedict Cumberbatch came back to life as Sherlock Holmes in The Empty Hearse, the first episode of Season 3 of Sherlock which aired on BBC One on New Year’s Day. The 90-minute installment was the series’ most-watched episode ever in the UK. Overnight ratings show that 9.2M viewers tuned in to learn how the high-functioning sociopath faked his own death in the last episode of Season 2, The Reichenbach Fall — and to witness his reunion with Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman). The Empty Hearse drew a 33.8% share to be yesterday’s most-watched program, peaking at 9.7M viewers, while provisional figures also make it the the most-watched drama of the whole holiday period in the UK. The run-up to Sherlock‘s return has been frenzied, with the BBC providing a host of goodies to fans who have waited nearly two years to revisit the character. A mini-episode titled Many Happy Returns was released by the BBC online on Christmas Eve and as of December 31st had been viewed over 1.5M times across the BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button with millions more watching on YouTube. The next 90-minute Sherlock Season 3 episode, The Sign Of Three, airs in the UK on January 5th. Season 3 begins in the U.S. on PBS on January 19th. Until then, beware abundant spoilers around the Web. Here’s another look at the interactive trailer for S3 that the BBC put out in December:

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