Over nine million people tuned in to watch the first episode of series three of Sherlock as it aired after much hype on New Year's Day.
Benedict Cumberbatch's lead was last seen jumping from the roof of St Bart's Hospital in the series two finale, "The Reichenbach Fall" but as trailers and pictures emerged ahead of the detective drama's return, it was clear he had not died.
Cue a flood of predictions, conspiracy theories and disbelief - plus a decent spattering of fan ecstasy that their hero is alive to solve another mystery. Last night's show promised to explain how Sherlock managed to elude death but even a cameo from acclaimed illusionist Derren Brown could not make things as clear as many fans were expecting.
Twitter was hit by a deluge of fan posts, discussing the as yet still unrevealed explanation behind Sherlock's death in the series two finale.
Gatiss: "We had to address" fan theories about Sherlock's jump. Hmm. I don't agree with that at all. Just lay your explanation down.— Jack Seale (@jackseale) January 1, 2014
More I think, more I reckon #Sherlock explanation-or-was-it thing was best fudge they could find, having been totally outmanoeuvred by fans.— Jack Seale (@jackseale) January 2, 2014
Haven seen Sherlock yet but am assuming rubber pavement.— jonronson (@jonronson) January 1, 2014
Some viewers noted that the episode had been targeted primarily at the show's already established fanbase - there was a cameo from Sharon Rooney as a Holmes conspiracy theorist and fan-club member and Benedict Cumberbatch's real-life parents appeared in the role of Sherlock's folks.
Annoying thing about Sherlock: assumed detailed recollection of last episode. Not all of us are obsessed, and it's excluding/confusing.— Archie Bland (@archiebland) January 1, 2014
Sherlock was 80% fanservice, 20% proper episode. Was good though, but looking forward to Sunday's episode.— Rythian (@IAmRythian) January 2, 2014
"How should we introduce Sherlock after 2 years?" "Have Benedict shirtless in his first shot, everyone seems to love that!"— SHERLOCK DAY! (@PondsAreCool) January 1, 2014
While many fans were taking Sherlock's return to detective mastery as a very serious matter indeed, there were plenty of light-hearted, jokey tweets flying around the Twittersphere. After all, the mystery surrounding the hero's death is still open to interpretation.
How did Sherlock survive? It was sheer luck - ha ha geddit? Sher-lock = sheer-luck LOL— Justin Moorhouse (@justinmoorhouse) January 1, 2014
So it turns out Sherlock actually shouted "call of the Eagle", jumped and flew away into the cosmos. Not sure how Watson didn't notice that.— Dean Dobbs (@deanitsomfg) January 2, 2014
The Les Miserables joke in #Sherlock is now making me wonder if Javert might have faked plunging to his death...— Tom Holland (@holland_tom) January 1, 2014
Sherlock looks like the sort of bloke who carries wet wipes in his jacket pocket.— Andy Dawson (@profanityswan) January 1, 2014
Was that other much-hyped BBC drama Doctor Who involved per chance?
Frankly, some people don't give a damn.
I tried to watch the new episode of Sherlock. 1.5 minutes. That's how long I lasted. I'm done.— Aditya Bidikar (@adityab) January 2, 2014
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