THE Scottish co-writer of the BBC series Sherlock has admitted he had no idea the series would become a "phenomenon" and had initially viewed it as a vanity project with little more than cult appeal.

Steven Moffat, the Paisley-born executive producer and co-creator of Sherlock, said he was at a loss to explain its success as the show's third series ended with an average audience of 8.8 million watching the season's climax.

Mr Moffat said: "It isn't supposed to be like this. Sherlock began life as a surprise hit, and now in its third series, it's rating higher than ever.

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"This show, which we all thought would be our vanity project destined for three million in the ratings and possibly an award from an obscure European festival, has become a barnstorming international phenomenon."

Moffat, who wrote the series with Mark Gatiss, went on: "If I live to be a very old man, I might be able to explain how any of that happened - drop me a line in about 40 years, I'll do my best."