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Cumberbatch announces engagement

Screen star Benedict Cumberbatch is going to shatter the hopes of female fans around the world after announcing he is to marry.

The Sherlock star, who has a global army of fans jokingly referred to as "Cumberbitches", has become engaged to the theatre director Sophie Hunter.

An announcement about the couple's news was made public in a small notice in The Times newspaper.

His disappearance from the eligible bachelor lists comes just a matter of weeks after the 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 and 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.

Hunter, who at 36 is two years younger than her fiance, 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 has 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. 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 apparently pictured together as they attended the French Open in the summer, where they went public with their relationship.

Cumberbatch has previously dated the actress Olivia Poulet and the designer Anna Jones.

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