Sherlock beats Top Gear to most popular iPlayer programme as catch-up service beats records

Benedict Cumberbatch proved more of a draw than Jeremy Clarkson last year

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The Independent Culture

Benedict Cumberbatch proved such a big attraction last year that Sherlock beat Top Gear to be named most popular programme on BBC iPlayer.

The BBC1 detective drama’s first episode of series three, “The Empty Hearse” was requested 4.2 million times on the catch-up service, with following two episodes “The Sign of Three” and “His Last Vow” also featuring in the top ten.

Jeremy Clarkson’s often-controversial motoring show Top Gear took second place for its opening episode, as well as a further four slots.

The Burma special that saw the presenter issued with a warning after breaching broadcasting rules with a racial slur was in fourth, while the Argentina special that angered country officials was the most-watched show over Christmas and 15th for 2014 overall.

So strong was Sherlock and Top Gear’s hold over iPlayer last year that only the first episode of Doctor Who series eight, BBC3 drama Murdered by My Boyfriend and comedy Outnumbered also entered the top ten.

Murdered by My Boyfriend saw a teenage girl fall for a violent older man

Sherlock co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat said it was “really thrilling” to see Sherlock top ratings. “We always knew he’d survive jumping off that building, but we never thought he’d fly so high,” they said.

iPlayer enjoyed its most successful year to date with 3.5 billion requests, up from 3.1 billion in 2013.

Top 10 iPlayer shows of 2014

Sherlock, series 3, episode 1 - 4.19m

Top Gear, series 21, episode 1 - 3.81m

Top Gear, series 21, episode 3 - 3.42m

Top Gear, Burma special part 1 - 3.34m

Sherlock, series 3, episode 2 - 3.33m

Sherlock, series 3, episode 3 - 3.21m

Top Gear, series 21, episode 2 - 3.08m

Murdered by My Boyfriend - 3.02m

Outnumbered, series 5, episode 1 - 2.86m

Doctor Who, series 8, episode 1 - 2.8m