Sherlock mini-episode revealed ahead of third series premiere

Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as the detective in 'Many Happy Returns'

A mini-episode of hit TV show Sherlock has been revealed ahead of the programme’s third series premiere next week (January 1).

The seven-minute episode, which you can watch below via Digital Spy, sees Benedict Cumberbatch reprise his role as the famous detective whilst Martin Freeman returns as his sidekick John Watson. ‘Many Happy Returns’ picks up the story from the end of series two, after Sherlock Holmes has apparently been dead for two years.

Earlier this year, Cumberbatch caused a “state of shock” when he supposedly confirmed that Sherlock would be returning for a fourth series – because nobody else at BBC drama knew what he was talking about.

Cumberbatch appeared to let slip that the actors are actually signed up for another three episodes after the third series. He said at the time: “We’ve agreed to two more series but I could get into trouble for saying that. All I know at the moment is I’m doing these three [episodes of the upcoming series] and another three.”

Recalling the actor’s somewhat premature comments about the future of Sherlock, one of the programme’s creators Steven Moffat told the Radio Times: “We were all in a state of shock at BBC drama.” However, he also confirmed there is still life in the show, adding: “If everyone wants to do it there will be a fourth [series].”

The first series of Sherlock aired in summer 2010, with a second run following in early 2012. Since then, the show’s stars have become increasingly in demand. Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, while Cumberbatch has roles in several high-profile films, including Star Trek Into Darkness

Series three of Sherlock will premiere on BBC One on January 1 at 9pm with the episode ‘The Empty Hearse’, written by Mark Gatiss.