The lure of the Cumberbatch*

*Yes, this is as shallow as it sounds. I am but a mere human… 

“Don’t tell me anything else good about it him! I can’t like him even more than I already do!” 

Thus spake my lovely friend Katie when, apropos of nothing, we stumbled upon the subject of Benedict Cumberbatch during a conversation last Saturday. [Actually, there was a link – we’d been discussing New Year plans and her plan for January 1st featured the new series of Sherlock.] It emerged that this affection had only recently developed, almost entirely thanks to a recent video clip of Cumberbatch reading some song lyrics aloud.

These weren’t just any lyrics, they were words from R Kelly’s latest offering to the world of music, an album entitled ‘Black Panties’. That title, and the fact that R. Kelly has a shady past as far as sexual ethics are concerned, are clear indications that he’s not someone I’d usually have a lot of time for. Let’s face it, has there been anything decent since I Believe I Can Fly?? The title of the album also gives you a pretty good idea of what the song lyrics might have involved. Here’s the video, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…

If you are in the least bit attracted to men, I defy you not have been affected in some way by that video. Most women I know who have watched it go weak at the knees at the final wink to camera. Investing in R Kelly’s career is wrong (IMHO), but watching Cumberbatch act the heck out of his lyrics is absolutely ok.

Now, I was already a fully paid up subscriber to the wonder that is Cumberbatch prior to this video appearing in the world, but my friend Katie was not. I proceeded to tell her of other wonderful ‘batch moments one could enjoy on YouTube (such as his Chewbacca impression from a recent Graham Norton show), but she stopped me, insisting that any further motivation to enjoy his work would be a bad thing.

Explaining why this would be a bad thing would take too long (and was entirely irrational). But what is necessary is explaining why the lure of the ‘batch is so strong. People have asked (honestly, they have – some consider the attraction as mysterious as women’s love of Alan Rickman), so I feel it’s my duty to share…

Most people would begin with Sherlock. I do not. [Like so many hugely popular TV shows, I ignored it until one month ago. Having purchased seasons 1 & 2 for a bargain £10, I’m now saving the second series for my mammoth pre-Christmas train/ferry journey, ready for its 2014 return. Watching episode one in the bath earned the title of ‘Cumberbath’ from a fellow fan.] It is excellent, almost entirely thanks to man who plays the title character, but there is more to Cumberbatch than just Sherlock.

Instead, I begin with Parade’s End. Shown in the summer of 2012 and overshadowed by various high profile sporting achievements, it was a drama to warm the hearts of all those who know that the best episodes of Downton are in the first two series. Based on the Ford Madox Ford novel, Cumberbatch plays the misunderstood Tietjens [pronounced ‘Teejens’, obviously] and moodily marches through WW1 and emotional angst. It’s gripping, and rescued me from the otherwise unrelenting misery of being in bed sick while staying at a French monastery.

Then, there’s the fact that he’s simply a fabulously good stage actor. Frankenstein, anyone? (Movie version, directed by Danny Boyle, soon to come to a screen near you too.)

Plus, he’s an all-round good egg. Political activism in the right direction? Check. Good humoured interviews? Check.

Political Cumberbatch

Oh, and those lips…

And thus, I have reached the conclusion that I can watch pretty much anything, and enjoy it, as long as it features Mr C – including Star Trek films, or obscure TV series from early-on in his career. If you are anything like me, or my friends Katie and Lauren, you’ll appreciate the following:

Starter for Ten – Possibly the only film ever made about University Challenge, featuring BC as the incredibly nerdy team captain.
Fortysomething – Random TV series from 2003 starring Hugh Laurie. BC is his eldest son and really rather lovely. The whole series appears to be on YouTube.
Hawking – One of the brilliant BBC4 biographical dramas they’ve recently stopped producing (boo hiss) on the early life of Stephen Hawking. Cumberbatch *is* Hawking. (Worth searching for online.)
And, my favourite, this clip of Cumberbatch impersonating Alan Rickman. Enough said.

Finally, sometimes he looks like an otter:

Cumberbatch is OttersCredit.