PBS aired the return of Britain's most intriguing detective 'Sherlock Holmes', a modern-day twist on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Dr Watson). The television series aired its season three premiere on Sunday night (Jan 19th), and garnered their highest-ever rating figures.

Sherlock Holmes
'Sherlock Holmes' cast

The opener, titled 'The Empty Hearse', has viewed on average by 4 million people, according to Deadline, which is quite a substantial rise from the 3.2 million viewers who watched season 2's launch.

The increase in viewership may be down to the show getting a certain amount of credibility from Hollywood after its two main cast members have recently starred in some of the year's biggest films.

Cumberbatch has been as busy as possible, starring in arguably four of the best features to come out of 2013.

The 37 year-old has starred in the Oscar nominated 'August: Osage County' as Little Charles Aiken, 'The Fifth Estate' as Julian Assange, the Golden Globe winning '12 Years a Slave' as William Ford and Captain Kirk's new nemesis in the epic sequel 'Star Trek Into Darkness' as Khan.

Martin Freeman
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in the season 3 opener

Benedict's co-star, the equally as busy Martin Freeman, has also been introduced to a global audience after starring as Bilbo Baggins in 'The Hobbit' trilogy, with the second instalment 'The Desolation of Smaug' hitting theatres in the fall of 2013.

The hugely successful sequel also stars Cumberbatch, or his voice, as 'Smaug', the last Dragon of Middle-earth who now claims the 'Lonely Mountain'.

But do not worry 'Sherlock' fans as the bright lights of Hollywood hasn't totally lured them off the small screen yet.

Read here how Benedict Cumberbatch nearly didn't take the 'Sherlock Holmes' role

While discussing the third season of 'Sherlock' at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Monday (Jan 20th), Cumberbatch said, "I'm going to keep going on with it. I play enough other mad people as well, a varied palate," (via USA Today).

Benedict also discussed the legion of die-hard fans of the television series, and how he appreciates their dedication.

"I think a lot of it comes with who (Sherlock) is. He is a very iconic figure. (The attention is) extraordinary and a little unnerving," he said. "They are supportive, loyal and by and large intelligent and some of them normal and committed to something I really love doing and a character I like playing and other characters as well. It means a lot to me."

The remaining two episodes of season 3 are scheduled to air on Jan 26th and Feb 2nd.

Sherlock Holmes
Cumberbatch and Freeman on the set of season 3