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Benedict Cumberbatch picks up CBE and defends on-stage refugees outburst

Published 10/11/2015

Benedict Cumberbatch was awarded the honour for services to the performing arts and to charity
Benedict Cumberbatch was awarded the honour for services to the performing arts and to charity

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has defended his decision to attack politicians over the refugee crisis while performing on stage.

The stage and screen star spoke after picking up a CBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace for services to the performing arts and charity.

While playing the title role in Hamlet at the Barbican in London last month, the 39-year-old was reported to have said "F*** the politicians" and was applauded for his views, before he apologised for his language.

Audience contributions raised more than £150,000 for Save the Children and, speaking at the Palace after meeting the Queen today, Cumberbatch told reporters: "It has been a fantastic response from the public who came to that theatre who raised a hell of a lot of money and awareness.

"We all felt just powerless and, as a new father, to see the footage and the photos that came to us in the summer, I think every single one of us with a heart realised this wasn't someone's else's problem somewhere else - this was all our problem, a humanitarian problem.

"So I was very happy to step up to the plate and ask a very receptive and very generous audience at the Barbican to help out."

Cumberbatch, wearing traditional morning dress, was accompanied to the Palace by his wife, Sophie Hunter, who looked elegant in a lilac dress.

The Oscar-nominated actor has been an active supporter of appeals to help Syrian refugees and took part in a short film for a Save the Children campaign.

He had given nightly speeches after his Barbican curtain call, asking for donations for the charity.

He is currently in the middle of filming the Marvel film Dr Strange in Nepal but said he wants to do more charity work when he takes a break from acting next year.

Cumberbatch was asked whether he minded having received "flak" about his appeal at the Barbican.

He replied: "I don't think I have. If I have that's news to me and that is not the news I'm interested in.

"I'm interested in the numbers of people who are drowning of the coast of the island of Lesbos. I'm interested in trying to help people who need funding, whether it is a charitable body or directly to people suffering.

"I'm interested in trying to raise awareness and help people who are in far worse positions than an actor being criticised for doing something other than his job.

"If, because I am in the public eye because of my work, I get scrutinised - my private life - because of that I can damn well make sure I use that potency to do good for other people."

He added: "it is not an abnormal activity for someone to appeal at the end of a night's performance for something that is affecting our world ... I have not done anything unusual.

"So I will take whatever criticism people will throw at me but they should just look back to the last person that also asked some someone to dig into their pockets and put some folded-up change into a bucket to raise money for a good cause."

Cumberbatch added that it had been "fantastic" and "nerve-wracking" to meet the Queen.

Asked if she had mentioned whether she was a Sherlock fan, he said: "She didn't let on if she was or not. I know a lot of the household is - I've been assured they have watched a few episodes."

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