…The main event, however, was indubitably Sherlock. Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are electrifying as one of the greatest double-acts of all time. The two may be investigating in modern Britain, but their relationship remains, as it should, a quaintly old-fashioned one. They compliment each other not just emotionally and intellectually, but physically too; the one tall, etiolated and sharply dressed, the other shorter, more solid and, it seems, styled by Millets.
Add the pen of Steven Moffat and you have an adaptation that is as slick and savvy as it is entertaining, although slightly daffy, plot-wise (a jumbo-jet full of dead people, snatched from their coffins by the Government to hoodwink some terrorists?). Still, there was plenty else to keep the viewer’s attention, mainly in the shape of the adventuress Irene Adler (who originally appeared in the 1891 in A Scandal in Bohemia), here reborn as a high-class dominatrix played by Lara Pulver.
Adler had a smartphone packed with naughty secrets and a talent for the theatrical. All seemed to swoon in her path, including the plot, which went a bit giddy every time it came in contact with her. Several of the photographs she claimed to possess pictured a young and (gasp) female member of the royal family submitting to her punishments, and there was a lot of throaty innuendo (she drugs Holmes, she strokes him with her whip). Also, she claimed to be using Moriarty as a kind of crime consultant; unexpected, but then I suppose even evil psychopaths have to eat.
No matter. Holmes was smitten (or was he?), and so were we. Strong performances from Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs) and Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (the excellent Mark Gatiss, who also holds writing credits) added a family dimension to the character of Holmes and, together with very 21st-century touches (Watson writing a blog, the pair of them being stalked by paparazzi) and the return of a familiar 19th-century one (Holmes’s deerstalker), this episode was a peculiar, perverse hybrid of ancient and modern that, as long as you weren’t too fussy, worked a treat.