It’s difficult to remember a time when Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t a thing. Back in the days before he was Sherlock, he was “that actor who played the child-molesting rapist in Atonement.” He was working relatively consistently in film, TV and on the stage, but Sherlock catapulted him into “household name” territory. So it’s no surprise that given his lack of stardom, the BBC wasn’t pleased with the idea of Benedict playing Sherlock. Sherlock showrunner and writer Steven Moffat said – in recent public remarks – that the BBC even declared Benedict to be unsexy. *shakes fist at the BBC*
Benedict Cumberbatch and David Tennant can hardly cough nowadays without sending their ardent army of female fans into a frenzy, so it’s hard to imagine a time when anyone deemed them “not sexy enough”.
But according to Sherlock and Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, that’s exactly what the BBC were concerned about when first casting Arthur Conan Doyle’s super sleuth and Tennant in his breakthrough in Casanova. Speaking yesterday at the Hay Festival, Moffat revealed that the Beeb had initial reservations over both leading men:
“They said of casting David Tennant as Casanova, ‘Damn, you should have cast someone sexier’. With Benedict Cumberbatch, we were told the same thing. ‘You promised us a sexy Sherlock, not him.’”
Both Cumberbatch and Tennant have gone on to set many female hearts a-flutter, with Tennant enjoying enormous success as the tenth Doctor and in Broadchurch, while Cumberbatch’s fans even have their own nickname, the Cumberbitches (although Cumberbatch himself prefers “Cumberpeople”). The Sherlock actor made the leap to major movie star in 2013, appearing in Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave and August: Osage County, although Moffat went on to acknowledge the drawbacks of his global success…”It can be quite annoying too if you’re scheduling a damn show.”
Well, at least the BBC allowed Moffat his choice for Sherlock. And from what I’ve heard from Moffat and Mark Gatiss in the past, Benedict really was their first and only choice. They thought he would be the perfect younger, modern Sherlock… and he is. As for the sexiness… well, as soon as they unleashed the Cumbercurls, many of us were done. But I think Sherlock/Benedict really came into his sexiness in the second season, with A Scandal in Belgravia. Something about Sherlock and Irene Adler… God, that was hot.