Happy Christmas from Cumberbatchweb!

sp2Happy Christmas from Cumberbatchweb!

It’s been an absolutely fantastic year for the site. When I started Cumberbatchweb with the aim of keeping a handful of friends up to date with Benedict Cumberbatch’s latest projects I never dreamed in my wildest imaginings that 2 years later the site would be receiving well in excess of one million page views a month! Thank you so much to everyone who has visited the site over the past year and to my wonderful followers on tumblr and twitter. Benedict Cumberbatch really does have some of the best fans in the world and it’s been great to chat to so many of you on email or twitter. Thank you also to everyone who has helped the site over the past year or invited me to events – your help is greatly appreciated.

A particular highlight of the year was definitely our fundraiser for Benedict’s birthday in July. I set up a fundraiser to raise funds for The Teenage Cancer Trust in the hopes of raising a modest £250. Benedict’s incredible fans raised over £10,000!

In fact Benedict’s fans this year have raised an astonishing £38,795 for The Princes Trust, the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

And it’s been quite the year for Benedict Cumberbatch himself.

Click the read more to read our round up of Benedict’s incredible year and have a fantastic Christmas everyone!

Benedict Cumberbatch has had an amazing 2012. With two highly critically acclaimed tv series, hotly anticipated roles in both independent films and massive blockbusters and plenty of awards buzz including winning the Olivier for best actor for his portrayal of The Creature & Victor Frankenstein in the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein his career has gone from strength to strength.

Sherlock2012 started with the return of Sherlock series 2 on New Year’s day. Consisting of three episodes – A Scandal in Belgravia, The Hounds of Baskerville and The Reichenbach Fall the series delighted critics and audiences alike. It was a phenomenal success with the public with over 11 million tuning in. Critics also adored the series stating that it “deserved to be considered alongside British TV drama’s highest achievements“. The ending of The Reichenbach Fall intrigued the nation with endless newspaper columns speculating on how Sherlock had managed to fake his own death.

The show has been showered with awards glory – 4 BAFTA nominations (with a win for Andrew Scott’s Moriarty), 13 Emmy nominations and wins at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards.

For his role as Sherlock Holmes in series 2 Benedict Cumberbatch has won the following awards – the Satellite Award for best actor in a mini series or movie, Critics Choice Award for best actor in a mini series or movie, TV Choice Award for best actor, PAAFTJ Award for best case in a mini series or movie and the Specsavers Crime Thriller Award for best actor. He has been nominated for a BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe Award – the Golden Globes are handed out in January 2013.

Series 3 of Sherlock is due to start filming in March 2013.

15974To have one critically acclaimed show in a year is a bonus for an actor – to have two is an embarassment of riches. Benedict followed up Sherlock with Parade’s End – starring as Christopher Tietjens in Sir Tom Stoppard’s witty and heartfelt five part adaptation of Ford Madox Fords’ novel. Featuring a career best Rebecca Hall as Sylvia Tietjens and an amazing cast of British actors including Roger Allam, Rupert Everett, Anne Marie Duff and Stephen Graham the series was hailed “one of the finest things the BBC has ever made.” Lushly romantic, darkly satirical and achingly moving Benedict was superb as the shell shocked Tietjens caught between his manipulative and all too human wife and the hope of a happier future with suffragette Valentine. A shower of awards will hopefully follow. Some unfortunate scheduling meant that the series didn’t get the viewing figures it deserved but the show was critically adored and is available to be re-discovered on dvd and blu ray.HBO will show the series in the US in 2013. You can check out our reviews of the series here.

2012 also saw Benedict’s film career go from strength to strength. He started the year filming for his roles in The Hobbit trilogy. Benedict is playing both the Necromancer and Smaug the dragon in the trio of films through the wonders of motion capture technology. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is in theatres now and briefly features Benedict (well sort of!) as the Necromancer. Expect to see him feature more extensively in the two subsequent filmsThe Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit:There and Back Again. The design of Smaug is still a closely guarded secret and we can’t wait for it to be unveiled.

star-trek-1Early in 2012 the news broke that Benedict would be playing the lead villain in the sequel to JJ Abrams Star Trek re-boot. This was followed by some intriguing leaked shots from the set showing Benedict’s character fighting with Zachary Quinto’s Spock. JJ Abrams is famously secretive about his projects and so it took until the end of the year before the sequel was given a name – Star Trek Into Darkness.  Benedict stars as John Harrison a terrorist and one man weapon of self destruction who declares war on the Federation. And the only people standing in his way are Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise…

To date two quite superb looking trailers have been released for Star Trek Into Darkness and those seeing The Hobbit at certain Imax cinemas this Christmas can look forward to a special preview featuring the first 9 minutes of the film. Our report on the prologue is coming soon (Christmas got in the way!) but it looked rather brilliant – lush, crisp, bright 3D visuals, lots of excitement and a real sense of camaraderie between the cast. And seeing Benedict in 3D on the biggest screen in the UK was ridiculously exciting.

Speculation continues to rage over whether Benedict’s character of John Harrison will turn out to be an established Trek villain such as Khan or Gary Mitchell. Many commentators have noted that the names of the characters Marion Cotillard and Jospeh Gordon Levitt were playing in The Dark Knight Rises were well known before the film was released- but that only told half the story. Whoever Benedict is playing the speculation is great fun and all will be revealed come May 17th next year when the film is released.

Alongside the movie blockbusters Benedict also filmed roles in two smaller films in 2012. He’ll appear as slave owner William Ford in 12 Years a Slave for highly respected director Steve McQueen (Shame). The cast is lead by Chiwetal Ejiofor and includes Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Garret Dillahunt. He’s also appearing as Little Charlie in the film adaptation of Pulitzer prize winning play August Osage County. Benedict is part of a very starry cast including Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper and Juliette Lewis. Both films are due for release next year.

Benedict has also landed the lead in two exciting film projects which will film in 2013. The first, tentatively titled The Man Who Sold the World will see Benedict star as highly controversial Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a project directed by Bill Condon. The film is set to be based on Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s book “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website” and “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy by reporters David Leigh and Luke Harding. The project starts filming in January 2013.

Benedict will also star as Brian Epstein – the man who discovered the Beatles in a new, as yet untitled, biopic.

Benedict has always been a highly respected stage actor and 2012 saw him win an Olivier Award (the highest award in UK theatre) for best actor for his roles as Victor Frankenstein and the Creature in the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein (directed by Danny Boyle). Benedict shared the award with Jonny Lee Miller who alternated roles with him. Benedict had previously been nominated for an Olivier for best supporting actor for his role in Hedda Gabler.

Frankenstein was recorded in 2011 for the NT Live initiative which aims to bring the National Theatre’s productions to a global audience by broadcasting them in cinemas worldwide. Encore screenings of Frankenstein were held worldwide in the summer of 2012 allowing new fans to see this superb production. It played to sold out cinema screenings and showed what an appetite there is for filmed productions.

Fans were also given a rare opportunity to see a free screening of Hedda Gabler at the V&A as part of their screening season celebrating 20 years of the National Video Archive of Performance. Hedda Gabler starred Eve Best (who won the Olivier for her role) as Hedda and Benedict as her hapless husband George Tesman) and was filmed in 2005 in the West End. You can read our review of the screening here. A further screening of Hedda Gabler at the V&A is due to be held on 3 February at 2:00 p.m. at the V&A

Whilst Benedict did appear in any theatrical production in 2012 he still did several one off appearances on stage – most notably in a reading of Look Back in Anger as part of the Royal Court’s Playwrights’ Playwrights season. Directed by Polly Stenham Benedict played Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger opposite Parade’s End cast mate Rebecca Hall as Alison. The cast also featured the superb Anna Maxwell Martin. It was a powerful afternoon of drama. You can read our review of the event here.

Benedict also appeared at the Cheltenham Music Festival as part of their World War 1 Piano and Poetry evening reading snippets from Sassoon and Ford Madox Ford. He also appeared as a reader at the Celebrity Woodwind Recital bringing with him an enthusiastic and engaged audience who delighted in the superb talents of Oboeist Nicholas Daniel.

2012 also saw Benedict continue his commitment to radio drama. We were treated to four new Rumpole tales (Rumpole and the Expert Witness airs on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day at 2:15) in which Benedict stars as Young Rumpole. Benedict also recorded two very exciting new radio projects which will air on BBC Radio 4 in 2013. The first Copenhagen is based on Michael Frayn’s critically acclaimed play which is a fictional account of the real meeting of German physicist Werner Heisenberg and Danish physicist Niels Bohr in Copenhagen during World War II. Benedict will star as Heisenberg opposite highly respected theatre actor Simon Russell Beale as Bohr.

Later in the year BBC Radio 4 will be airing an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel Neverwhere in which the hero Richard gets caught up in a magical world he never knew existed – the world of London Below. Starring James McAvoy as Richard, Benedict will appear as the Angel Islington. As a huge fan of Gaiman’s work I confess I am extremely excited about this series – can’t wait for it to air.

At the end of the year Benedict also returned to the much loved BBC Radio 4 comedy series Cabin Pressure which is now in it’s fourth series. Written by the ludicrously talented John Finnemore. Benedict stars as Captain Martin Crieff opposite Roger Allam as First Officer Douglas Richardson, Stephanie Cole as Carolyn Knapp-Shappey and Finnemore himself as Arthur. The series is a huge favourite with the fans and it’s increasing popularity saw a ridiculous 17,000 applications for the 600 seats available at the three sets of recordings. You can read our report of the second recording here. Cabin Pressure starts to air on BBC Radio 4 on 9 January at 6:30 p.m.

Benedict’s dulcet tones also featured in a number of commercials in 2012 – most notably he was the voice of HiscoxSony and Jaguar’s latest campaigns. His vocals were also put to spectacular and memorable effect when he popped up unexpectedly at the start of the BBC’s coverage of the Olympics – “Let the Games begin” indeed! Benedict is also voicing the audio book tie in of The Snowman and the Snowdog which is released for download on 29 December 2012.

sh32012 also saw Benedict turn his talents to being a model when he took to the runway at the Spencer Hart show for Men’s Fashion Week. He is also featured in a new Fashion is Great Britain campaign.

Benedict’s fans also had the opportunity to see Benedict speak at a couple of superb Q&As. One for PBS was a free event with the tickets distributed by lottery. PBS had thousands of applications from all over the world for tickets for the event. Broadcast on livestream so fans could enjoy it across the globe Benedict, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue discussed Sherlock with a wildly enthusiastic American audience.

Later in the year Benedict appeared at the Cheltenham Literary Festival where he was interviewed by fellow Sherlock cast member and journalist Louise Brealey (Molly Hooper). The event sold out within minutes of tickets being put on general sale. The lengthy Q&A was a delight with Benedict talking about subjects such as Sherlock, Parade’s End, fame and whether he gets star struck. After the event Benedict signed for hours ensuring that he met every single person who waited to meet him.

a5k0woyciaej6pyOn a personal level in 2012 Benedict continued his unwavering support of The Princes Trust of which he is a patron. In October he and his best friend Adam Ackland took part in the Palace to Palace bike ride for the charity raising an incredible £27,785 in sponsorship from fans, friends and family between them.

It’s been an extraordinary and hectic 2012 for Benedict Cumberbatch and 2013 looks set to continue that trend with the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug, August:Osage County and 12 Years a Slave. They’ll be more Sherlock and lead roles in both the Wikileaks and Brian Epstein projects.

Roll on 2013!