Heartthrob Cumberbatch in shock revelation: he wanted to be a barrister

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By Judge John Hack on

Actor parents of Sherlock star encouraged him to go into law, but the closest he came was to preside over Judge Rinder’s wedding


Benedict Cumberbatch may be the screen heartthrob de nos jours — gearing up for a run at potential Bafta and Oscar honours this awards season for his lead performance in the Imitation Game — but initially he wanted to be a barrister.

Cumberbatch — whose performances in BBC television drama Sherlock have caused a whole generation of young women to require time in a dark room with a damp cloth on their foreheads — has told several online entertainment websites that his parents were keen for him to head to bar school.

All the more ironic as mama and papa Cumberbatch were themselves from the luvvie community. Mother Wanda Ventham played Cassandra’s old girl in Only Fools and Horses, while father Timothy Carlton is also a TV sit-com and stage actor.

“They wanted me to have the opportunity to be a doctor or a lawyer so I looked for a long time at being a barrister,” Cumberbatch is quoted as saying of his parents desires.

He went on to compare the bar with acting, saying of the former:

“There’s an element of performance taking on an argument, story telling, persuading people …”

But ultimately the man who is reportedly lined up to play The Dane at the Barbican later this year decided the law wasn’t for him. Of law school, he asked himself:

“Why am I putting myself through the mill to be something that’s one removed from the profession that I really want to do, which is acting?”

Nonetheless, Cumberbatch remains close to the legal profession. Last August, he officiated at the Ibiza nuptials of 2 Hare Court barrister Robert Rinder (see photo below), who, let’s face it, is potentially an even bigger star thanks to his runaway Jeremy Kyle-esque daytime TV hit.


Cumberbatch was apparently ordained via the internet to allow him to preside over the marriage of Rinder to fellow barrister Seth Cumming, of 3 Stone Buildings.

The two are old friends from their days at Manchester University, leaving open the tantalising possibility of a Cumberbatch appearance on Judge Rinder.