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‘Sherlock’ Scores Well for ‘Masterpiece’

Benedict Cumberbatch stars  as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock on PBS’ Masterpiece. mct

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock on PBS’ Masterpiece. mct

Pasadena, Calif. — Sherlock (10 p.m. Sunday) returned to Masterpiece Mystery! Sunday with an average audience of 4 million viewers, a 25 percent increase from the 3.2 million viewers who tuned in for the season-two premiere in 2012.

Episode three of the fourth season of Downton Abbey reached 8.4 million viewers, up from 7.9 million who tuned in a week earlier for episode two — football on Sunday was probably less competition for Masterpiece than the Golden Globes a week earlier.

The halo effect of Downton and now Sherlock has resulted in sold-out underwriting for Masterpiece this year, a far cry from just a few years ago when the program could not attract a single underwriter.

Some published reports earlier this month suggested a fourth season of Sherlock could go into production and be ready to air late in 2014. Executive producer Sue Vertue said such a scenario is technically possible but no schedules have been set.

“We’re still checking our diaries,” she said, presumably meaning schedules. “It’s like a Venn diagram (with everyone’s schedules).”

Benedict Cumberbatch said he chatted with Robert Downey Jr. Sunday night and traded notes about playing Sherlock Holmes, but he’s never had “a proper sit down about it yet” with fellow Brit-playing-Sherlock Jonny Lee Miller of CBS’ Elementary, an old friend. “The last thing we want to do is talk shop.”

PBS is not letting go of that 10 p.m. Sunday time slot after Sherlock finishes its run on Feb. 9.

The public broadcaster has lined up two one-off British import TV movies for February.

The Making of a Lady (10 p.m. Feb. 9), based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden), follows educated but poor Emily Fox Seaton (Lydia Wilson) as she marries and befriends her husband’s relatives. Murder on the Homefront (10 p.m. Feb. 16), set during World War II, follows the search for a serial killer during the Blitz in World War II London.

In other TV news:

∎ Lifetime’s Flowers in the Attic movie was a hit Saturday night, drawing 6.1 million viewers; a sequel is already in development.

∎ Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie will end its run with a one-hour episode at 8 p.m. Feb. 16.

∎ Good news/bad news: Fox’s Enlisted moves to 9 p.m. Friday this week, which might help its ratings, but that means Raising Hope moves to 9:30 p.m., which will likely hurt its ratings.

∎  NBC has renewed daytime soap Days of Our Lives through the 2015-16 TV season.

∎ Vulture.com reports HBO’s Looking opened to a small audience Sunday, drawing just 338,000 viewers in its premiere broadcast, less than half of its Girls lead-in. HBO is less dependent on ratings than a commercial network, but as Vulture notes HBO did cancel Enlightened, which had a similar-sized audience.