17/01/2017 13:05 GMT | Updated 17/01/2017 13:10 GMT

'Sherlock: The Final Problem' Draws Lowest Live 'Sherlock' Audience Ever, Beaten By 'Countryfile' AND 'Antiques Roadshow'

The Ratings Problem

With all the hype, speculation and even talk of Russian cyber-intervention surrounding the lead-up to ‘Sherlock’s grand finale on Sunday night, you’d expect a national audience to be hooked.

Hmm, not so much… with viewing figures revealing that the final episode of the hit sleuthing show drew its lowest live audience ever, beaten by ‘Countryfile’ AND ‘Antiques Roadshow’ on Sunday evening.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman drew a respectable 5.9million viewers, but this is 2.2million viewers down from the first episode this series, and a whopping seven million viewers fewer than those who tuned in for the beginning of Series 3, and an explanation of how Sherlock had faked his death in the preceding cliff-hanger.

Both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have hinted this could be the last outing for Sherlock and Watson

In contrast, ’Countryfile’ - which continued to hold its own against the big talent shows like ‘X Factor’ last year, was enjoyed by 6.7million live viewers.

These figures will undoubtedly change once the catch-up audience is tallied, but they give weight to opinions that ‘Sherlock’ might have reached its natural hiatus point.

Writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have both said it’s becoming increasingly hard to get the whole team together for the hit production, and title star Benedict Cumberbatch told GQ magazine last year that the last scenes in this year’s series felt “very, very final”.

This year’s big finale was complicated, too, by revelations that the episode had been leaked onto the internet in Russia. The production crew pleaded with fans not to leak any spoilers ahead of transmission and, for the most part, succeeded, with fans left surprised by the twists and turns of ‘The Final Problem’, which saw Sherlock having to deal with his errant sibling Eurus.

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