Benedict Cumberbatch: My London

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch swims in the ponds on Hampstead Heath and does his wooing at Tate Modern…

Home is

Near Hampstead Heath.

What was the last play you saw in London?

All My Sons, at the Apollo Theatre, which completely knocked me sideways. It was so powerful I cried unashamedly for the last 40 minutes.

What advice would you give a tourist?

Visit all the tourist places out of hours, towards the end of the day; avoid the Tube at rush hour on a hot day; go off the beaten track and discover Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park. Try to see plays, not just musicals – and keep coming back.

Which London shops do you rely on?

I love Beyond Retro and charity shops for everything a man needs, from shoes to suits. I rely on sample sales at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane for T-shirts, original prints and one-offs. For food, I go to an Italian delicatessen called Giacobazzi’s near South End Green, Hampstead. For books, I visit Daunt’s and Foyles but I also love taking a book up to the fifth floor at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly and looking out across the skyline.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in London?

At Blacks, the private members’ club in Soho, because they’ve got a diverse seasonal menu with an Italian influence. I enjoy everything from the foie gras and terrines to the lamb roasts and offal.

What’s your earliest London memory?

Being on the rooftop of my parents’ flat in Kensington and seeing a helicopter fly over to land at Kensington Palace. My parents claim that my first word was helicopter’.

What would be on your tombstone?

I’ve always liked the thought of a joke tombstone where the corner of the stone peels back and there’s a voice saying, Mmm, Danone.’ As for something more profound: I hope they got it.’

What are your guilty pleasures?

Ice cream in front of The X Factor and smoking while on stage at the National.

What would you do as Mayor for the day?

I’d team up with a taxi driver, a cyclist, a tourist and a commuter and go round London with a politician, a councillor and a town planner and tell them what’s wrong with London’s public transport.

What’s your life philosophy?

Live a life less ordinary.

What was the last album you downloaded?

I can’t stop listening to Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling and Fleet Foxes. I last downloaded Laura Marling’s album I Speak Because I Can and LCD Soundsystem’s song All My Friends’.

What would you save from a fire?

My girlfriend, Olivia Poulet, and her parents’ dog Mitch if she was there, too.

What are you up to at the moment?

I’m filming Steven Spielberg’s War Horse once I’ve finished After the Dance at the National. During the day I’m learning to ride and then I’m on stage in the evening. To relax, I’m roof gardening and swimming in the ponds on the Heath.

Which is your favourite shopping street?

There’s a great farmers’ market at the bottom of Parliament Hill which I enjoy because you feel like you’re part of a neighbourhood. I also love Marylebone High Street for the Sunday market.

What’s the most romantic place in London?

The Tate Modern Restaurant overlooking St Paul’s, or standing on Waterloo Bridge because you feel like you’re part of one of the world’s great cities.

Which is your favourite London club?

The bar at The Ivy for a whisky sour and to be treated well.

What is your favourite London discovery?

Viet, the excellent noodle bar on Greek Street.

Where did you last go on holiday?

I had a few days’ break from filming Third Star in Pembrokeshire which I spent with my girlfriend. Last Christmas I went skiing in Kandersteg in Switzerland with my girlfriend’s brother and his hilarious baby twins. We also went to a wedding in Croatia. We made a holiday of it and visited a beautiful little island called Korcula.