This is what I was wanting to hear and waiting to hear...
The Mysterious Case of the Unknown Moriarty: Sherlock Will Reveal All
BBC's summer success ends on Sunday with the appearance of the nemesis created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
He's brought suspense, intrigue and a dashing line in greatcoats to Sunday evening television – and on Sunday night Sherlock Holmes will go head to head with his nemesis, the shadowy Moriarty.
Sherlock, the updated tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, with Martin Freeman as Dr Watson, has been a summer success for the BBC, with the first episode pulling in 7.5 million viewers.
Fans have been gripped by the riddle surrounding the identity of Moriarty, who has teased Sherlock from afar. But Steven Moffat, the Doctor Who showrunner who co-created the series, promises that Moriarty will be revealed in the third episode. "The next great Moriarty arrives on Sunday night, you wait! Oh, just you wait!" he says.
Sherlock has turned Cumberbatch – a twice Bafta-nominated actor for his roles in Hawking and Small Island – into a television superstar, and provided Freeman with his most successful television role since The Office. And the BBC is hoping that Sunday night will not be the final outing. "We would like there to be another series," said Ben Stephenson, the corporation's controller of drama commissioning. "We're so thrilled by the reaction."
Stephenson is due to meet Moffat and his co-creator, Mark Gatiss, the actor, screenwriter and author, on Wednesday. "The response to Sherlock has been amazing, and we'll be speaking very positively about it," Stephenson said.
The decision about the length and number of future episodes – this series has three 90-minute films, rather than a longer season of hour-long episodes – would rest with Moffat and Gatiss.
The longer format has been praised by fans – and has, Stephenson believes, contributed to the show's success. "Ninety minutes means Sherlock feels like less of a detective show and more of an adventure show," he said.
Traditionally, high summer has been seen as a quiet time for television drama, with broadcasters waiting until autumn to launch their big shows.
But Stephenson says that rule no longer holds – in 2008 the corporation broadcast Criminal Justice and House of Saddam over the summer; last year the corporation ran a successful special week-long series of Torchwood. "Audiences always want to see good drama – and the majority of people don't go away for the whole summer," he said.
This summer the BBC has also shown a third series of the frothy drama Mistresses and The Deep, a submarine drama starring Minnie Driver and James Nesbitt, which received a lukewarm reception when it launched last week.
But it is Sherlock that has caught the public's imagination, not least because of Moffat's involvement. The first series of the new Doctor Who, with Moffat at the helm – and Matt Smith and Karen Gillan ensconced in the Tardis – has been widely heralded as a triumph.
Last Sunday's instalment of Sherlock was perceived to be weaker than the first episode in terms of plot, but still attracted 6.6 million viewers and critical praise. Expectations are high for the final episode.
Stephenson said he was thrilled with the reception. "I thought Sherlock would be big because Steven is a god, Benedict and Martin are a fantastic pairing and the direction was brilliant. But you never know until you put it out."