It's a mystery that Sherlock Holmes himself might struggle to solve – how could the BBC think that these scenes were appropriate for a pre- watershed audience?
Families settling down to watch the Corporation’s latest Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adaptation were shocked to see actress Lara Pulver – playing the great detective’s romantic interest Irene Adler – strolling around with no clothes on a full 25 minutes before 9pm.
The character had already been shown wearing a thong and carrying a whip as she walked into a room containing a woman tied to a bed.
Perching suggestively: Lara pulver as Sherlock Holmes' love interest Irene Adler in the nude a full 25 minutes pre-watershed
Almost ten million watched the New Year’s Day episode of Sherlock, which was based on the 1891 short story A Scandal In Bohemia.
The first of three new episodes of the series, which swaps the 19th-century setting of the original tales for modern-day London, was shown on BBC1 from 8.10pm.
In the most shocking scene, Miss Pulver wore only diamond earrings, lipstick and heels as she flirted with Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
After perching suggestively on a chair, Miss Pulver – whose updated version of Miss Adler works as a dominatrix – went on to strike him across the face with a riding crop.
Racfy scenes: The nude Irene Adler flirts with Benedict Cumberpatch's Sherlock Holmes
She later tampered with the detective’s phone so that new text messages were announced with a sensual moan.
Viewers yesterday complained that the BBC had gone too far with the raunchy scenes, which were screened in an early-evening holiday slot to maximise ratings.
One wrote on Twitter: ‘Dominatrix?! Watershed anyone? My ten-year-old was watching that.’
Another said: ‘I don’t think the storyline in Sherlock is pre-watershed suitable.’
A third asked: ‘How was Sherlock on pre-watershed with that slut walking round with no clothes on for most of it?!’
The BBC insisted that the scenes were not too racy for the timeslot.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re delighted with the critical and audience response to the first episode, which has been extremely positive, and have received no complaints at this stage.’
The episode, titled A Scandal In Belgravia, attracted an average audience of 8.75million, peaking at 9.5million.
Series co-creator Steven Moffat said he had given Holmes an overtly sexual sparring partner to scotch speculation about a homosexual undercurrent to the relationship between him and Dr John Watson, played by Martin Freeman.