Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Empty Hearse: Who Said Only Elvis Could Fake His Own Death?

'You know, for a genius you can be remarkably thick. I don't care how you faked it. I want to know why.'

Ladies and gentlemen, behold! The miracle of the resurrection. So, that's how he did it, dear blog reader. Possibly.
Or maybe it was one of the other twelve possibilities. 'Like a scene from a play. Neat eh?' 'Not the way I'd've done it. I'm not saying it's not clever but ...' 'What?' 'Bit ... disappointed.' 'Everyone's a critic!'

In December 1893, in order to dedicate more of his time to what he considered 'more important works' (which included his medical practice, his historical novels and other writings, his burgeoning interest in social justice and politics and his flourishing sporting career), the physician and author Arthur Conan Doyle - the celebrated creator of the Sherlock Holmes stories which had been published in the popular Strand magazine for the previous five or six years - suddenly decided to be the man that killed the golden goose.
In a stroke of the pen, he had his best known character and his nemesis, Professor James Moriarty, apparently plunge to their grisly deaths together down the jagged, smashy rocks of the Reichenbach Falls in the short story The Final Problem. The public outcry was enormous but Doyle wasn't, seemingly, too bothered by any of that malarkey. He just went on with his life and his various preoccupations. While living in Southsea, Doyle played football as a goalkeeper for Portsmouth Association Football Club, an amateur side in the Southern League, under the pseudonym AC Smith. During this period he would write some of his most interesting - if, not always especially well known - work including Rodney Stone (1896), the short story collection The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (1896), The Dealings Of Captain Sharkey With Stephen Craddock (1897), The Man With The Watches (1898), The Tragedy Of The Korosko (1898), the poetry collection Songs Of Action (1898) and The Brown Hand (1899). Doyle was, simply, too busy to bother with Sherlock Holmes any more.
He also started his first class cricket career playing ten matches for the MCC between 1900 and 1907. On 25 August 1900, at Crystal Palace Park, Doyle - mainly a steady, if unspectacular, middle order batsman who bowled only occasional off-spinners - took the sole wicket, of his first class career. It was an impressive one, though, having the iconic WG Grace caught behind by the Derbyshire wicket-keeper Bill Storer when the MCC were playing against London County. Doyle was so chuffed with his achievement that he wrote a lengthy poem about it, A Reminiscence of Cricket. Today, he'd probably have got in the England team for his ability to take a wicket. Following the Boer War in South Africa at the turn of the Century and the condemnation from around the world over the United Kingdom's conduct, Doyle wrote a work titled The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct, in which he sought to justify Britain's role in the war. Doyle had served as a volunteer doctor in the Langman Field Hospital at Bloemfontein between March and June 1900 so he'd seen at first hand what the war was all about. Doyle believed it was this publication which subsequently resulted in his being knighted by King Edward VII in 1902 and appointed as a Deputy-Lieutenant of Surrey. Also in 1900, he wrote, The Great Boer War, a less opinionated history of the conflict. During the early years of the Twentieth Century, Doyle twice stood for parliament as a Liberal Unionist - once in Edinburgh Central and once in the Hawick Burghs - but although he received a more than respectable vote on both occasions, he was not elected.
But, the public remained restless for him to return to what they considered he did best. As Mark Gatiss has noted, the death of the fictional Sherlock Holmes had been regarded as little short of a national tragedy, with many young men taking the fashion of wearing a fragment of black crepe in their hats in Holmes's memory. And it was this continued fascination with the phenomena of Sherlock Holmes which, eventually - and reluctantly - led to Doyle bringing the character back in 1901. Firstly in the ghost story, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, which was little short of a publishing sensation when it appeared and remains, to this day, the best known of Doyle's many works. Although this was set at a time before the Reichenbach incident, in 1903, Doyle relented to public pressure - this time very reluctantly - and published his first new Holmes short story in a decade, The Adventure Of The Empty House, in which it was explained that only Moriarty had really fallen to his death at Reichenbach; as Holmes had other dangerous enemies - especially Moriarty's acolyte, Colonel Sebastian Moran - he had arranged to be perceived as dead until such times as he was able to return to London in safety and, ultimately, defeat those who would have him as a corpse. Whether he liked it or not - and, frankly, he didn't - Doyle was stuck with Holmes for good. Though he rather resented the fact that his most famous creation completely eclipsed all of his other writings put together (although, to be fair, The Lost World and his other Professor Challenger stories did, and still do, have their own not insubstantial cult following), Doyle would carrying on providing Holmes and John Watson with more mysterious cases to investigate until 1927, just three years before his death. By that time, Doyle had, frankly, gone very weird. Following the death of his beloved first wife, Louisa, in 1906, the death of his son Kingsley just before the end of World War I and the deaths of his brother, Innes, his brother-in-law EW Hornung, creator of the literary character Raffles and his two nephews shortly after the war, Doyle sank into a depression. He found solace in his support of spiritualism and its attempts to find proof of existence beyond the grave. He befriended all manner of quacks, charlatans and fraudsters and started believing in all sorts of weird shit - like his very public support of the veracity of the infamous Cottingley Fairies photographs. Doyle, by this stage, on the verge of becoming a laughing stock, also became convinced that his close friend Harry Houdini possessed supernatural powers - a view which Doyle expressed in his book The Edge Of The Unknown. Houdini was apparently unable to convince Doyle, for whom rationality had, seemingly, long since left the building, that his astounding feats were simply a product of illusion and trickery, leading to a bitter public falling out between the two. Doyle died in 1930. It's an urban myth that his last words were ' ... and now comes the greatest mystery of all.' Over a century after his decision to bring back Sherlock Holmes, the character remains fascinating to the public who grasped what Doyle, seemingly, never did.
At a recent screening of the first new episode of Sherlock in two years, The Empty Hearse, a posse of eager fans saw, exactly, how Sherlock survived going pavement diving from the roof of St Bart's - having, obviously, been sworn to secrecy by the show's creators before the episode was shown. Remarkably, most of them kept their word. The screening included a Q&A session with Sherlock's key cast members and creators, who all looked rather bashful when the audience literally screamed - in Beatlemania style - at their arrival on stage. Fame, fame, fatal fame. The Reichenbach Fall, the last episode of Sherlock's second series, was shown in the UK in January 2012, attracting almost ten million overnight punters. It has since been broadcast in more than two hundred countries worldwide and has become little short of an international sensation. Speculation among fans subsequently hit fever pitch, with all manner of theories about how Sherlock achieved his survival abounding on Interweb sites such as Twitter. The BBC also released a seven-minute online prequel to the latest episode - Many Happy Returns - revealing a series of supposed sightings of the allegedly late sleuth across the world. Co-creator and writer Mark Gatiss admitted he was 'taken aback' by the mass excitement generated by the previous series, which ended with both Sherlock and his nemesis Jim Moriarty dying, messily. 'We had absolutely no idea it was going to take off in the epic proportions it has, so that by the time we came to actually do [this episode], we really had to address the fact that it had become so huge,' Mark said. 'There are only so many ways you can do it [bring Sherlock back] but I think people were expecting something mystical, a TARDIS. We knew right from the start how we were going to do it. The important thing was that he die in John [Watson's] arms and reappear.' Fellow co-creator The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat added that the success of Sherlock had surpassed all their expectations. 'Mark and I thought we had a very, very good show. I thought it would be a sort of posh art-housey hit and it would do three or four million,' he said, exactly the same sort of audience, in fact, that he achieved with a previous modern-day classic literary adaptation, 2007's Jekyll. 'We did not expect it to be an instant mega hit around the world.' The show's two stars yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self are both now ranked as major Hollywood players. Since the last Sherlock episode was made, Marty has starred in two of Peter Jackson's successful Hobbit movie as Bilbo Baggins, while Benny provided the voice of Smaug the dragon and the Necromancer. Cumberbatch also played the villain in JJ Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness and was in the very well reviewed Twelve Years A Slave. His other recent film appearances include August: Osage County and and the flop The Fifth Estate. Benny said that his first reading of the script for The Empty Hearse was 'pure delight.' The episode reveals a few changes in the complex relationship between Sherlock and John.
Two years after the disgraced detective Sherlock Homes has apparently, leaped to his death from the roof of St Bart's hospital, he has prepared a characteristically theatrical comeback. But as his faithful followers celebrate his return, much to Sherlock's annoyance the world has failed to stand still without him. His friend John Watson - damaged and still grieving - has been in a deep depression but he has also begun the process of moving on in life, and is now in love with Mary Morstan – sensible, quick-witted and not at all taken in by Sherlock's posturing but, not entirely oblivious to either his charm or, indeed, the positive effect he has on her fiancé. As John absorbs the shocking news of his friend's return, and worries about the impact it might have on his own plans for domestic bliss, Sherlock must reacquaint himself with 'the great cesspool' that is London, before taking on a new and potentially catastrophic case – an imminent terrorist attack on the capital's underground system. And, of course, there's that small matter of how Sherlock survived actually The Fall. Literally, and metaphorically.
'Primarily the focus is about them reuniting,' Cumberbatch said. 'John has been through an emotional gauntlet and that's rightfully played out and it takes a bit of time [to readjust to Sherlock's return], it's not an easy thing. I think Sherlock has regressed, he thinks all he has to do is flip the collar up and wink, and off they go on another adventure.' Freeman, who won a BAFTA for his role in 2011, added that he is 'devoted' to the show because of its quality. 'These are both really good parts for John and Sherlock. Some of the best scripts I've ever read. It's one of the best shows I'll do if I live to be one hundred,' he said. Both Benny and Marty said that filming Sherlock's fall in front of the hundreds of fans gathered was quite an experience, Freeman describing it as 'like being at a premiere, it was odd, it was not like doing a play or filming, it was a new genre of acting.' But how was the secret behind Sherlock's plunge kept under wraps? Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) paid tribute to those watching the filming, saying their restraint in not revealing what they saw 'was an act of kindness and self-discipline.'
The latest episode also features the return of Gatiss his very self as Sherlock's older, smarter brother Mycroft, and the debut of Freeman's real-life partner Amanda Abbington, as John's soon-to-be-missus, Mary. Amanda said that she got the role 'a couple of years ago', having previously worked with Gatiss and producer Sue Vertue. 'They always said, "We want to write something for you in the show," because they like to get family members in. But I didn't expect such a key role. And I'm very flattered,' she added. Freeman joked that 'it wasn't a John and Yoko thing where I said "I want my Mrs in this."' Gatiss was clearly pleased with how warmly the audience reacted to the episode, which includes a fair smattering of humour, saying the pressure on him, as writer, to get it right had been immense. 'Someone did say to me, "What does it feel like writing the most scrutinised piece of television in the last twenty years?" and suddenly it hit me. But I'm thrilled to get it out there. The main thing to stress is that it's much more about getting them back together than it is about the mechanics of how he did it. There are only so many ways that you can fall off a roof.' Of his fall and resurrection, even Cumberbatch admitted: 'I sat there wondering in the end, I'm not sure if I even know.'
'The one person he thought didn't matter at all to me was the one person who mattered most.' So - somewhat unconvincingly, according to John Watson's blog - the good doctor has been getting on with his life. It's a line that Mycroft repeats when his formerly dead brother turns up at the Home Office with a smirk on his face and suggests he may ground round to Baker Street and jump out of a cake. 'He's got on with his life,' insists Mycroft. Sherlock, of course, is having none of it. 'What life? I've been away.' The return of Sherlock in The Empty Hearse has been, as Mark Gatiss alluded to, just about the most anticipated moment in television history since ... well, pick you own last 'moment when the world was watching.' Much of the speculation, of course, was centred on what the opening five minutes or so were going to contain the way of dealing with the Reichenbach Cliffhanger. Which involved, ahem, a number of Mission: Impossible-style masks, a bungee chord, a - long-awaited, and necessary - kiss for good old loyal Molly and Dazzling Dezza Brown doing his spooky prestidigitation. Perhaps. Or, it was a cunning and dazzlingly complex Mycroft and Sherlock scheme involving a hastily assembled air-bag, a trick-cyclist, lots of extras and 'window dressing' and a squash ball under the armpit. Or, maybe it one of the other eleven possible scenarios Sherlock alludes to at various points. Is it really important? Only to provide one of the best lines of the episode: 'Bollocks! ... Two years and the theories keep getting more stupid,' as Greg Lestrade tells a grief-stricken Anderson. Can it really be that simple? Or, that complicated, whichever you prefer. 'You utter ...' Precisely. Meanwhile in some Christ-forsaken Serbian Gulag, there's yer actual Mark Gatiss wearing a very silly Russian military hat and saying, 'sorry, but the holiday is over!' Oh good, this is going to be a funny one. If, in places, truly horrific. Especially that small furry animal living in plain sight on Martin's Freeman's top lip.
But, the humour was really spot on - from Benedict's comedy French accent and Ron Mael-style drawn-on 'tache to the brilliant sending-up on the numerous fan theories about how Sherlock faked his own death (complete with a disturbingly accurate parody of Sherlock-Moriarty slash-fiction and lines like: 'I don't think we should wear hats!') Moriarty's assassination network is dismissed in a throwaway sentence so that time could be spent on some properly wonderful characterisation ('I'm not lonely, Sherlock.' 'How would you know?') and the various reactions of Watson, Lestrade and Mrs Hudson to Sherlock's return. Violence, joy and horror. In that order. We get a few moments of Molly as an, actually rather good, Watson substitute in a cunning series of scenes juxtaposed with poor old John dealing with  a variety of mundane medical distractions like distended testicles, piles and, ahem, a 'piss pot.' 'What did he say?' 'F-', 'Cough.'
'I need to get to know London, again. Breathe it in.' The dialogue was, of course, brilliant. 'Surprise me.' 'Certainly endeavouring to, sir!' And: 'So ... just your brother, Molly Hooper and a hundred tramps!' And: 'Oh yes, we meet up every Friday for fish and chips.' And: 'Are you really going to keep that?' And: 'It's impossible.' 'Welcome to my world.' And: 'Both of us thought you were an idiot, Sherlock, we had nothing else to go on 'til we met other children.' 'Oh yes, that was a mistake.' 'Ghastly. What were they thinking of?' And: 'If you seem slow to me, can you imagine what "real people" are like. I'm living in a world of goldfish.' And: 'I don't shave for Sherlock Holmes.' 'You should put that on a tee-shirt!' And: 'A secret terrorist organisation is planning an attack? That's what secret terrorist organisation's do, isn't it? It's their version of golf.' And: 'I'll find the answer, but it'll be in an odd phrase in an online blog, or an unexpected trip to the countryside, or a misplaced Lonely Hearts ad.' And: 'There's always an off-switch.' And: 'Killing me? That's so two years ago!' And: 'After all, not all of the men you fall for can turn out to be sociopaths.' 'Maybe it's just my type!' And: 'I AM NOT GAY!' Of course, it was also beautifully acted - by all of the regulars, needless to say, and with an extra special mention for both Lou Brealey and Amanda Abbington who brought a much-needed touch of femininity to Sherlock and John's sometimes Oestrogen-free world. The scenes between Cumberbatch and Lou were, especially touching as well as, frequently, hilarious. 'Did you get him off a murder charge?' 'No, I helped him put up some shelves.' There were action sequences as good as anything the series has previously done (the whole John-trapped-in-a-bonfire bit) and there was a splendidly amusing cameo for Tim Carlton and Wanda Ventham - Benny's own mum and dad - playing Sherlock's surprisingly 'ordinary' parents. To the nub, then, was it any good? Of course it sodding was, y'geet daft planks, it was Gatiss and Moffat and Benny and Marty, what did you expect, The Wright Way?
To be fair, the first sixty minutes or so were rather scattergun in terms of plot; often brilliant, and - even more often - wee-in-your-own-pants funny, admittedly, but ultimately a bit patchwork. A series of terrific snapshots only vaguely connected to the central core of the episode. Never shallow, though, and never less than riveting. The last half-hour, on the other hand, that was the real deal. A wonderfully Bondian story about a terrorist plot centred on a disused tube station with red herrings, cul-de-sacs and false flags laid all over the place to lead the viewer down many a strange avenue before arriving at an elegantly straight-forward solution. Plus, a sneaky little reference to one of Conan Doyle's lesser known works, The Reigate Puzzle ('the colossal schemes of Baron Maupertuis'). Gatiss previously mentioned, of course, that he'd written the story, at least in part, based on childhood memories of how just scary a place the underground - especially when it's deserted - can seem from the recently-recovered 1968 Doctor Who story The Web Of Fear and that vibe certainly comes across in the scenes in which Sherlock and John wander the tunnels in search of the bomb. And then, find it. 'I wasn't in bomb disposal, I'm a bloody doctor!' Was it, as Anderson suggests, 'a bit disappointing?' Was it shite as like. It was bloody great, dear blog reader. It was witty and it was sharp and it was certainly worth the two year wait. All this, loads of allusions to The Adventure Of The Empty House (Lord Moran) and a 'giant rat of Sumatra' reference. And, it ended with an enjoyable little unsolved mystery (or two, or several) to be carried over to Sunday. Though, there's a wedding to get out of the way, first, obviously.
'You were the best and the wisest man I have ever know, of course I forgive you.' Loved the fact that they blew up parliament as well, even if it was only in Sherlock's imagination. And, that Derren Brown exists in both the Sherlock and Doctor Who universes as well as the real one. Three masters of mesmerism and prestidigitation for the price of one. Hope, this time, they did send him flowers.
'I asked you for one more miracle. I asked you to stop being dead,' 'I heard you.'

Sherlock's mini-episode Many Happy Returns has been viewed over six million times already. The seven-minute clip - which serves as a prequel to the third series - was made available via BBC iPlayer and YouTube on Christmas Eve and on the Red Button from Christmas Day. Many Happy Returns received over one and a half million views on iPlayer and Red Button, and 4.75 million hits on YouTube over the past seven days. Written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, it stars yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self along with Rupert Graves (Detective Inspector Lestrade) and Jonathan Aris (Anderson).
BBC iPlayer's head of TV content Victoria Jaye said: 'We're delighted that the audience in their millions enjoyed the Sherlock mini-sode we commissioned exclusively for BBC iPlayer. The art of a powerful drama mini-sode is delivering a story that entertains in its own right, as well as builds excitement for a new series. As we develop BBC iPlayer to be a primary entertainment destination, we'll be offering more "made for BBC iPlayer content around our big brands, as well as originating entirely new formats exclusive to the service.'
Sherlock returned to effing 'uge overnight ratings on BBC1 on New Year's Day. The third series premiere opened to an average 9.18 million viewers at 9pm, with a peak of 9.49 million tuning in at the beginning of the episode (three hundred thousand, seemingly, switched off as soon as they saw it was Derren Brown what done it). Consolidated figures will be released next week. The show's second series had launched with an overnight of 8.75 million, while its finale was seen by 7.90 million (the final, consolidated ratings for A Scandal In Belgravia and The Reichenbach Fall were, respectively, 10.66 million and 9.78 million). Earlier on BBC1, Gnomeo and Juliet was seen by 4.15 million at 6.45pm. On BBC2, Nature's Weirdest Events brought in 2.59 million at 8pm, followed by Stanley Baxter's Glasgow: Big Night Out with 1.52 million at 9pm. ITV's broadcast of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two could only manage 4.44 million at 8pm. On Channel Four, The Karate Kid remake attracted nine hundred and forty thousand punters at 6.30pm. David Blaine's Real or Magic? was watched by a very respectable 2.10 million at 9pm. Channel Five's An Audience with Ken Dodd repeat pulled in 1.20 million at 9pm whilst The Dambusters was watched by in nine hundred and ninety five thousand at 6.30pm. On BBC3, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade gathered nine hundred and ten thousand at 7pm.

Yer actual Mark Gatiss and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat his very self have spoken of their 'delight' at The Empty Hearse's bumper ratings. Moffat said: 'Thrilling news on overnight ratings for Sherlock. A tribute to the team who work so hard, and with such pride, on the show, and of course to the genius of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It's proof that audiences will show up if you give them what they want - though we can't throw Benedict off a roof every week.' Gatiss added: 'Delighted our loyal audience tuned in on an appropriately bleak and stormy New Year's night! After two years it's fantastic to have this response to Sherlock, John and all the team being back on TV. All this and Doctor Watson gets married in three days' time!'
The Times's Alex Spence captured the anticipation over the new series of Sherlock, cultivated by the BBC's social media which geo-targeted posts to avoid spoilers for those abroad not yet able to see the show. What followed, says the paper's leader column, was 'a triumph in imaginatively updating Conan Doyle's stories.' The Sun called it 'the biggest secret in television', before revealing - via a series of photographs - what fans had waited two years to find out. It's critic Paul Simper hailed the episode as 'a perfect way to kick off a new year of telly.' 'In the end, it all came down to a squash ball concealed under his armpit - had anyone predicted that?' asked Ellen Jones, in the Independent, referring to how the detective claimed that he temporarily stopped his pulse. 'The greatest satisfaction of this thoroughly satisfying season opener was confirmation that Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss (who penned the episode) knows us fans better than we know ourselves.' The Torygraph's Chris Harvey agreed: 'This was the triumphant return of the most charismatic, most fun character on British television, played by Cumberbatch with insouciant verve. Sherlock wasn't flawless but it was brilliant,' adding that Sherlock's 'complex explanation' of how he survived plunging from a rooftop was 'less thrilling' than the fantasy explanations offered at the start of the show. 'A challenge to keep up with, a joy to watch - there's a reason this kind of telly takes two years to make. But oh, how we've missed it, and oh, how it was worth the wait,' noted the Huffington Post's reviewer. And, of course, some wanker of no importance at the the Daily Scum Mail went and spoiled it all by saying that Sherlock's explanation of how he survived was 'barely more convincing' than the red herrings. 'The hidden message was a cop-out - we needn't worry about how the last series ended because an exciting new series is here,' he added, through gritted teeth. Not only that but, in reviewing the episode, the Scum Mail website managed to almost get the name of both lead actors right. Almost, but not quite.
As usual, the best review of the episode came from yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite TV reviewer, Metro's Keith Watson: 'So, how did Sherlock Holmes dodge what looked like certain death when we left him plunging from a rooftop? In a riot of mind-blowing inventiveness Sherlock returned to demonstrate exactly how our hero survived to mesmerise us with more detecting derring-do. Or did it? With a cheeky mind-bending playfulness of which Dynamo would have been proud Sherlock's creative duo Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat teased us time and again with a blurring of fact and fantasy that made it hard to know which end was up. Although, however it played out, a body ended up bloody on the pavement. The Empty Hearse, the first of a trio of new Sherlock stories, could equally well have been called Thirteen Possible Scenarios, the variations on Sherlock's non-demise played out with ever more elaborate ingenuity. We had Moriarty on the roof, Derren Brown dabbling with Watson and a bungee rope all twisted into the mix. I swear sumo wrestlers were mentioned at one point. It all made for an adrenalin rush of a movie-style outing, peppered with memorable scenes high on humour and teasing the predilection of Sherlock fans to invest all manner of motivations in their heroes. Watson returning to tell landlady Mrs Hudson he’d finally moved on from Sherlock’s "death" was a comic mini-masterpiece, putting to bed those homoerotic fantasies, climaxing with the classic line "I was not Sherlock's boyfriend!" Sherlock disguising himself as a waiter in order to surprise his old mate with his return from the dead was even better, Martin Freeman's prolonged rage at the depth of his deception a truly touching mix of anger, delight and disbelief. But in among all these glittering jewels of scenes and fanboy in-jokes (we get to meet Sherlock's parents and guess what ...) there was the slight suspicion the underlying story was taking second place to a celebration of its central characters. Bubbling along through it all was a terrorist plot to attack London that didn't quite punch its weight. Not that I wasn't swept away by the giddy rush of it all, Benedict Cumberbatch mesmerising throughout and Gatiss a hoot as Mycroft, enjoying his brother being brutally tortured a touch too much. Praise too for Amanda Abbington as Watson's new love Mary, slipping into the relationship equation with understated intelligence. Now we've got the pesky "why isn't he dead?" stuff out of the way, the next two episodes can crack on with the Sherlock mastermind business.'
The Graham Norton Show pulled in 4.76 million viewers for its New Year special at 10.15pm on New Year's Eve, according to overnight data. The BBC1 show - with guests including the cast of Anchorman 2, the Monty Python's Flying Circus chaps and Jackie and Joan Collins - was watched by over two hundred thousand more viewers than last year's edition, which became Norton's highest rated episode of his 2012 series. The channel continued its ratings success with Gary Barlow's Big Ben Bash Live which had 6.76m in the run up to midnight. Over thirteen million punters (13.7 million) welcomed 2014 with BBC1's New Year Live, an impressive three million increase on last year's celebrations. Earlier in the night, 3.87 million tuned in to Celebrity Mastermind at 7pm, while three million watched Two Doors Down at 9pm. On BBC2, 2.56 million saw in the New Year with Jools Holland's Annual Hootenanny from 11.30pm. Earlier at 7.30pm, a festive University Challenge attracted 2.41m, while new series Nature's Weirdest Events kicked off with 2.22 million at 8pm. Tudor Monastery Farm garnered 1.57 million at 9pm and the last episode in the current series of Mock the Week brought in 1.07 million at 10pm. On ITV, the 2008 musical shitfest Mamma Mia spectacularly failed to entertain 2.13 million glakes at 8pm, followed by a look back at the most - allegedly - 'humorous' moments of the last year with 2013: A Funny Old Year which had a properly pathetic 1.46 million at 10.15pm. On Channel Four, 1.54m million celebrated with Alan Carr's New Year Specstacular at 9pm, with guests including Strictly Come Dancing champion Abbey Clancy, Emma Willis and Leigh Francis. Earlier, Deal Or No Deal attracted nine hundred thousand at 7pm, while Celebrity Fifteen To One, hosted by Adam Hills, was watched by 1.53 million at 8pm. Channel Five's The Gadget Show had six hundred and forty nine thousand punters muttering 'it's not as good as it used to be when Suzy Perry was on it' at 7pm, 1.18 million tuned in to World's Strongest Man at 8pm and The Greatest Stand Up Comedians Countdown brought in a million viewers at 9pm. Meanwhile, ITV3 scored the highest primetime ratings on the multichannels, with Midsomer Murders entertaining nine hundred and ninety five thousand at 8pm. Five hundred and fifteen thousand tuned in to Agatha Christie's Poirot at 10pm.

Here's the consolidated figures for the Top Twenty programmes, week-ending 22 December 2013:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing: The Results - Sat BBC1 - 12.79m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.79m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.30m
4 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.41m
5 Last Tango In Halifax - Tues BBC1 - 7.06m
6 Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 6.36m
7 The Great Rain Robbery - Wed BBC1 - 5.99m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.33m
9 The National Lottery: Saturday Draws - Sat BBC1 - 5.93m
10 BBC News - Sat BBC1 - 5.76m
11 Mrs Brown's Boys - Wed BBC1 - 5.52m
12 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.34m
13 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.33m
14 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.27m
15 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.86m
16 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.80m
17 Ripper Street - Mon BBC1 - 4.63m
18 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.56m
19 Text Santa - Fri ITV - 4.41m*
20 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.26m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated show of the week was The Choir: Sing While You Work (3.45m). Channel Four's best rated show for the week was Homeland with 2.80m. The Mentalist was Channel Five's highest performer with 2.15m.

Early consolidated ratings for Christmas Day released by BARB show that Mrs Brown's Boys topped the day's ratings with 11.52 million, followed by Doctor Who (11.14 million), Coronation Street (9.40 million), EastEnders (9.36 million), Call The Midwife (9.16m), Downton Abbey (8.95 million) and Strictly Come Dancing (8.84 million). The final figures for the full week-ending 29 December should be available early next week.

No comments: