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Why is Sherlock so popular in China?

Sherlock has become a global phenomenon but none so more than in China. Just like their British counterparts, Chinese fans of the show await eagerly for the new series to come out, loading up BBC iplayer as soon as the show has aired.

And then they might login to Youku with the subtitled version. The first episode of Sherlock series 3 was viewed on Youku in 2014 a staggering 5 million times in the first 24 hours, becoming the site’s most popular programme to date.



“shén tàn xià luò kè (神探夏洛克)” as it is called in China is attractive to fans for Benedict Cumberbatch and his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the modern day. BBC’s Sherlock relies more on his intelligence and wit rather than  brute force (unlike the Guy Richie interpretation) which is very appealing to Chinese audiences.

There is also a popularity for classic Western stories in China which Sherlock Holmes is well established in portraying.



In China Sherlock is often called “Curly 福,” because of his hair and his Chinese name, “fú ěr mó sī (福尔摩斯)”

His loyal sidekick Dr. Watson meanwhile has been given the nickname “huā shēng (花生)”, which means “peanut.”


The Sherlockian fandom extends into fan fiction – that is unofficial stories involving the Sherlock characters in new situations. Chinese fans are obsessed with the relationship between Sherlock and Watson among the odd villains, eccentric aristocrats and fashionable London settings.


If you are ever in London, the obvious pilgrimage for any fan is the ‘Speedys cafe’ in Gower St. (187 N Gower St, London NW1 2NJ) which stands in for Baker St. 221B.


You may not have to go far to experience the famous address, however if you are a Sherlock fan in Shanghai. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 221B exists here as well, in the form of a coffee shop and Sherlock museum. The outside decor resembling the location of Speedy’s cafe in London.

This year sees a new Christmas Special episode of Sherlock, which will be like nothing we’ve seen before.

Sherlock and Watson wear are in their classic setting from the books this year's special (BBC)

Sherlock and Watson wear are in their classic setting from the books this year’s special (BBC)

Set in Victorian England as the original stories were, the producers have claimed that it will be a completely different Sherlock instead of a time travel  or costume wearing story as we first guessed.


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