How did Sherlock survive the fall? Fans given sneak preview

Television cliffhanger finally resolved as select few find out how Sherlock Holmes faked his own death

LAST UPDATED AT 16:26 ON Mon 16 Dec 2013

THE truth about how Sherlock Holmes survived his rooftop fall was finally revealed to a small group of fans this weekend. It has been nearly two years since BBC's Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, appeared to jump to his death from the roof of St Bartholomew's Hospital in front of John Watson, played by Martin Freeman, before turning up later at his own graveside.

The mystery of how he survived – one of the most talked about television cliffhangers of all time – was finally resolved at a BBC preview yesterday but the audience has been sworn to secrecy until the episode is broadcast on New Year's Day. Nevertheless, the internet continues to bubble with theories about how Sherlock faked his own death. Here are the top five...

The carefully parked red lorry

Many believe an open-backed lorry filled with rubbish bags holds the key to Sherlock's survival. It is parked close to the spot where Sherlock appears to have landed and blocks Watson's view of the final impact. Was Sherlock's fall cushioned by the rubbish bags before he played dead on the pavement? Or was it there to obscure a body switch?

A Sherlock mask on Moriarty's body

Moments before Sherlock appears to jump, his arch-enemy Moriarty shoots himself on the hospital roof. Was his body used to help Sherlock fake his own death? The theory fits with the episode title, The Reichenbach Fall, as the name Rich Brook – Moriarty's alias – is German for Reichenbach. (The Reichenbach waterfall in Switzerland is also the scene of Holmes' final showdown with Moriarty in Arthur Conan Doyle's books.) But other viewers argue that Sherlock appears to be alive when he jumps.

A Sherlock body double

While framing Sherlock for the kidnap of the British ambassador's children, Moriarty somehow conditions the ambassador's daughter to be terrified of Holmes. Some say he might have used plastic surgery to make one of his assistants into a fearsome Holmes lookalike and that this double somehow ended up jumping off the roof. Others say Sherlock might have dabbled in human cloning himself – a subject he talks about in Hound of the Baskervilles.

Watson tricked

Watson takes Sherlock's pulse before the body is hurried away by paramedics. So how would a living Sherlock dupe his friend? Sherlock is seen in earlier scenes playing with a ball that when strategically placed under the armpit can be used to stop a person's pulse. Others suggest he might have taken grayanotoxin, a drug that features in an earlier episode. Derived from rhododendrons, it can make the person using it appear dead. Meanwhile, some viewers suggest Sherlock might have used the hallucinogenic gas seen in episode two of the series to trick Watson into believing he had seen him die.

Sherlock's helpers

Sherlock is likely to have used other people to help him fake his own death, say fans. His pathologist friend Molly Hooper could have provided him with false paperwork or a corpse. Meanwhile, the Baker Street Irregulars, Sherlock's network of "homeless helpers", feature in Arthur Conan Doyle's fiction. Were they involved in Sherlock's death defeating jump? This would explain the timely intervention of a cyclist who knocks Watson down just as Sherlock takes the plunge and the paramedics who promptly take away Sherlock's body before Watson can take a better look at his dead friend. · 

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That was the episode that put me off this new Sherlock show forever. 15 minutes of non-stop chitter-chatter with Moriarty in a swimming pool was enough to bore us to death - it is just another silly Dr Who. Arthur Conan Doyle's books are full of action.

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