Cumberbatch has been nominated seven times previously for his roles in Hawking in 2005, Small Island in 2010, Sherlock in 2011, 2012, and 2015, and the Hollow Crown in 2017 at the British Academy TV awards (BAFTAs).
He has also been nominated for his role in The Imitation Game in 2015. Cumberbatch was quick to make light of his previous failures to take home a BAFTA award during his acceptance speech:
“I’m very used to being the bridesmaid, not the bride.”
The actor was effusive in his praise for the source material: “I breathe rarefied air because it’s a gift, what we get to do as storytellers, and it’s even more of a gift when it’s material as refined as this series.”
For Cumberbatch, there was added pressure to do justice to the source material. The mini-series is adapted from Edward St Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical novels.
It takes an irreverent look at the British upper class as we follow Patrick Melrose through his childhood in the South of France during 1960s, to his life in hedonistic New York during 1980s, and the sober Britain of the early 2000s.
“We all stand on one man’s shoulders: an extraordinary human being, the man who wrote the five novels that this is based on, whose life mirrored much of what Patrick Melrose endured in the series: Edward St Aubyn.”
Speaking backstage, Cumberbatch gave more insight into his affinity for the books, describing them as “some of the greatest prose of the 21st century” He added:
“They are astonishing books – and I’m not just trying to push my friend’s book sales. They are exquisite.”
Cumberbatch said St Aubyn crafted “them out of an experience which was forced out of child abuse.”
The author was serially raped by his father, and he “descended into chaos in his late teens and early twenties as a drug addict.” Cumberbatch adds:
“[…] and yet he managed to pull free into sobriety that resulted in not only those works but also being one of the kindest, gentlest, most generous human beings I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet.”
Patrick Melrose also received five Emmy nominations, including Best Limited Series and Cumberbatch has also been nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes.
Patrick Melrose will hit our screens via Showmax from 3 June. If you’re struggling to pass the time until then you can stream these BAFTA winners Succession, Sally4Ever and A Very English Scandal.