Some excerpts from this morning's Andrew Marr Show, in which Benedict Cumberbatch talked to Marr about his acting roles - including that of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (12A) which is on general release in the UK from 14th November 2014
Andrew Marr: .. during the Second World War vital work was done behind the scenes by those who decoded intelligence on German military plans. The mathematician Alan Turing was at the nerve-centre of the codebreaking operation at Bletchley Park. And a thrilling new film charts how he broke the German Enigma codes. Recently I asked the film's lead, Benedict Cumberbatch, before he announced his marriage engagement, if he agreed that Turing was one of the most important men of the 20th century.
Benedict Cumberbatch: I really do agree. The father of the modern computer age, a man of brilliant theoretical thinking. Somebody who thought philosophically about maths, and the application of machines beyond just his Universal Machine but into the world of full artificial intelligence.
Andrew Marr: And he broke the German codes, and it said at the end of this film that he ended the war two years before it would otherwise have ended and saved 14 million lives by doing that. What's the basis of truth in that?
Benedict Cumberbatch: I think huge. I think the rate the war was going and the amount of fatalities and waste of life was on the increase. It was a siege in this country at that time. What it meant by cracking the code was then being able to place all of the shipping movements, all of the planned attacks, and be able to span that out. Whether it be Luftwaffe raids, whether it would be a U-boat raid, and basically to be able to see on a map the reality of what the Germans were planning to do ahead of when they were going to do it. And then, of course you can't act on all that information without giving the game away that you've cracked the codes. But they then had this onerous task of feeding the information through certain channels to therefore, who knows, supply some people with the truth and keep some hidden. And as we now know, Coventry, which was rumoured at the time and until very recently rumoured to be known of, was definitely known about.
Andrew Marr: And they let it burn because the alternative would be letting the Germans ..
Benedict Cumberbatch: We let the entire city burn with thousands, hundreds of thousands of people dying in order to win the war. Which is just an unfathomable moral conundrum.
Andrew Marr: And Turing himself - now it has been said by some critics of this film, that the gayness has been glossed over in some way - that he's not gay enough in the film.
Benedict Cumberbatch: I don't quite know what that means, because to me, you know, his sexuality is very very clear in the film. We don't show him in bed with anybody - we don't show anyone who's heterosexual having a moment of sexual intimacy in the film.
Benedict Cumberbatch: The specific importance of his sexuality in both history and in the film is the fact that it was denied. That it was criminal - criminalised by that society at that time. And that he was punished, after saving the democracy and government that was in power by that democracy, for his identity. And I just hope that, you know, this film is about his achievements, about his life, it's about his loves as well, and it is about his sexuality. And it's a very very strong part of his identity ...