IT’S MATRIMONY, dear Watson. Benedict Cumberbatch, who as the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes has earned an army of devoted female fans, has shattered their dreams by announcing that he is to marry a Scots theatre director.
While his alter ego, the world’s cleverest detective, would have concocted a series of elaborate clues to his romantic intent, the actor took the more traditional route: he placed a marriage notice in the Times.
The 34-word statement, under the heading “Forthcoming Marriages”, read: “Mr B.T. Cumberbatch and Miss S.I. Hunter. The engagement is announced between Benedict, son of Wanda and Timothy Cumberbatch of London, and Sophie, daughter of Katharine Hunter, of Edinburgh and Charles Hunter of London.”
Within hours of the announcement being printed in yesterday’s edition, the actor’s legion of female fans, who jokingly refer to themselves as the “Cumberbitches” – a term the actor has been too much of a gentleman to use – had taken to social network Twitter to announce their dismay.
Belle Weckmann tweeted: “I’m crying cause Cumberbatch is engaged and it ruins my life plans!” Sister-in-sorrow Jade Lopez tweeted: “I’m genuinely devastated Benedict Cumberbatch is engaged.” Emma Renshaw was more positive, saying: “Benedict Cumberbatch is engaged! Good for him! I wish it was me, but, that’s fantastic.”
Yesterday the family of Cumberbatch’s fiancée told of their delight at her engagement. Speaking at the family home overlooking the Water of Leith in Edinburgh’s picturesque Stockbridge, Sophie’s mother, Katharine, said no date or venue had been set.
She said: “We’re just very happy for them. It’s a really lovely day. It’s only just been announced so we don’t know any more. All we want to say is, we’re just really happy for them. It’s a fabulous day. We’re just very happy for today, it’s such lovely news.”
Ms Hunter’s brother Patrick, 30, said: “I am very happy. We are all very happy for Soph, it’s really exciting news. We’re just very happy and pleased for her. I don’t think they’ve any plans at the moment [to visit Edinburgh]. We’re just very happy for both of them. We want it all to be about Sophie and Ben.”
The actor’s disappearance from the eligible bachelor lists comes just a matter of weeks after Hollywood star George Clooney married the lawyer Amal Alamuddin. Cumberbatch, 38, is enjoying a golden period in his career as one of Britain’s most popular actors. He has been lauded for his role as codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, with suggestions he could make it onto the Oscars shortlist for the role.
There were reports last month that the star had headed to Edinburgh to seek the blessing of Hunter’s mother for the marriage.
Ms Hunter, who at 36 is two years younger than her fiancé, is an Oxford graduate who studied modern languages. She has directed a number of experimental and avant garde productions including a puppet version of Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition which toured the US.
Hunter has taken acting roles in TV shows such as Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood and an episode of Midsomer Murders, as well as the 2004 film version of Vanity Fair starring Reese Witherspoon. She appeared alongside Cumberbatch in the 2009 film Burlesque Fairytales.
Her stage productions as a director have also included the Britten opera The Rape of Lucretia and a 2011 tour of Africa with Mozart’s The Magic Flute, for the arts charity Opera for Change.
She has also had a music career of her own, recording a French language album with Robbie Williams’s collaborator Guy Chambers in 2005 called The Isis Project, after they met through a mutual friend. Chambers said of her at the time: “I knew from the moment that she walked into the studio that she was the right person with the right attitude and enthusiasm.”
The couple were pictured together at the French Open in the summer, where they went public with their relationship. Cumberbatch has previously dated actress Olivia Poulet and designer Anna Jones.
After the actor split up with Anna Jones his sister, Tracey Peacock, speculated about the sort of woman who could capture her brother’s heart: “You would have to be a pretty smart cookie to keep up with him. I think that is possibly why he has trouble with girlfriends.”