Sunday, 7 October 2012

Benedict Cumberbatch charms the Cheltenham Literature Festival

I was one of 2,000+ people packed into the Benedict Cumberbatch event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival last night. You'll be pleased to know that I internalised my Sherlock fangirl squeeing and actually paid attention to what he was saying.

Louise Brealey had a tough job last night. The journalist, actor and Sherlock star (she plays Molly Hooper) had to interview her friend and co-star in front of a packed audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and ask him difficult questions he probably couldn't answer. She had to satisfy the Sherlock fans as well as lead a discussion about Conan Doyle's infamous literary creation. The girl did good. Here's what I took from the interview.

Louise Brealey is lovely
She admitted to being terrified about hosting the interview in from of a huge audience, going into perhaps too much detail about some recent dreams caused by her nerves - wetting herself on stage and blaming Benedict, running in a computer game style through the streets (half naked) with Martin Freeman at her side and a dragon at their heels. Apparently the dragon was Cumberbatch. Brealey prodded her co-star in all the right places about Sherlock, his acting career, spoilers for Sherlock series 3 as well as Star Trek. He may have replied "no comment" most of the time, but she did her best to weasel information out of him. And she flirted shamelessly with him throughout.

Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't like spoilers
It doesn't matter who you are - Steven Spielberg or any other Steven - Cumberbatch will not tell you how Sherlock survives the fall from the hospital rooftop. But he didn't mind sending the Molly/Sherlock shippers in the room into a frenzy when Brealey asked him if there's any hope for Molly in series 3: "There's always hope for Molly."

Benedict's mum didn't think he had the right nose for Sherlock
Benedict's mum knew Jeremy Brett as a friend as well as a TV Sherlock. She didn't think her son had the right profile, specifically the right nose, for the role.

Benedict fills in the blanks of Sherlock's life, but you won't hear about them
Someone asked what Sherlock's back story was and Cumberbatch wasn't up for sharing: "That's a little treasure chest for me to dip into but not for you to know!" But when asked about Irene Adler "beating" Sherlock he was quick to suggest part of the "A Scandal in Belgravia" story that we didn't see: "Do you know what went on in Islamabad? Because I do. No beating, very loving." He did, however, say that he thinks Sherlock wasn't born the way we see him in the series but that "he began" - maybe we'll get a hint of this in series 3.

Benedict loves the action hero stuff
Brealey asked what his favourite part of filming Sherlock was - to which he replied without hesitation: "You." After the fans in the room had stopped aaaahing at the ridiculous flirting that was going on, Cumberbatch said that the clothes, the coat, shooting guns, running about, talking fast and getting the words right and the rat-a-tat dialogue he has with Martin Freeman were all really enjoyable parts of the role.

People need to get over the Elementary rivalry
Brealey asked about the CBS show Elementary which stars Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. The entertainment press is full of stories about rivalry between Cumberbatch and Miller, who worked together in Danny Boyle's Frankenstein: "The last time I was in front of this many people either he or I were naked!" He dismissed the stories setting one show against the other, mentioned that he has an Elementary hat (possibly from Comic Con) and encouraged us all to watch it. "You can't take possession of the role." Indeed you can't. Otherwise Robert Downey Jr would want a word.

Molly Hooper gave Sherlock a Borat mankini for Christmas
Brealey claims that Molly's gift to Sherlock was a mankini. Cumberbatch joked that he'd wear the mankini on the outside of his cycling gear during his Palace to Palace ride for The Prince's Trust.

Cumberbatch has a potty mouth, occasionally 
During an answer to a question I can't remember, Cumberbatch said "brain-fuck". He realised what he'd said, "Oooh I swore!", apologised in case of any children in the room and then finished with a Hugh Grant style "fuckity fuck fuck." I felt like I'd just heard the Head Boy swear, it was adorable and odd.

Cumberbatch does a great Alan Rickman impression 
It was a ridiculously good impression. The kind that could easily phone prank one of Rickman's family. When Cumberbatch was signing my ticket (see proud picture to the right) I congratulated him on it and he said it was all John Sessions' fault for teaching him.

Cumberbatch won't be on Twitter any time soon
He doesn't feel pithy enough for Twitter, despite the crowd screaming "Yes!" when he asked if we wanted him to start tweeting. Sorry people, I doubt he'll ever see the need to tweet.

They talked about lots of other things, including how "fame is odd but it's really nice as well" and that he's "happy to contain old souls from old worlds" which could explain why he's drawn to characters from period stories. And apparently we can expect to see him play Hamlet at some point in the near future.

Cumberbatch successfully encouraged and deflected the audience whooping when he took off his coat, and Brealey did a great job fielding questions from the audience. I was so grateful that no one asked him if he was a boxers or briefs man. He stayed to sign autographs for over two hours after the event, looked knackered when I met him but was a total charmer to everyone in the queue. The man certainly likes to wink.

Thank you Louise, Benedict and the Cheltenham Literature Festival organisers for a great night.


  1. Great recap! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Sounds like it was a lot of fun.

    1. Benedict was so charming it was ridiculous. Thanks for reading!

  2. Looks interesting, ill be sure to check it out. Cheltenham tips


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