BBC Initially Felt Benedict Cumberbatch Was 'Not Sexy Enough,' 'Sherlock' Showrunner Says

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Steven Moffat adds that the U.K. public broadcaster had similar feelings about former "Doctor Who" star David Tennant and says that Cumberbatch's success is "quite annoying" when it comes to scheduling a show.

LONDON – Benedict Cumberbatch and David Tennant have had big success as the leads in BBC hit shows Sherlock and Doctor Who, respectively, and beyond. But the U.K. public broadcaster initially felt they didn't quite have the look, according to showrunner Steven Moffat.

When Cumberbatch was first cast as Sherlock Holmes and Tennant as Casanova before his time as the Doctor, the BBC had some reservations, as they seemed "not sexy enough," Radio Times magazine quoted Moffat as saying.

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"They said of casting David Tennant [in a mini series] as Casanova: 'Damn, you should have cast someone sexier,' " Moffat, who continues to oversee Doctor Who and Sherlock, said, according to the publication. "With Benedict Cumberbatch, we were told the same thing. 'You promised us a sexy Sherlock, not him.' "

Tennant more recently served as the co-lead in ITV crime drama Broadchurch, which Fox has remade for the U.S. for the coming TV season under the title Gracepoint. And Cumberbatch has also turned to movies, including Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, and The Fifth Estate, in which he portrayed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

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Cumberbatch will next be seen playing gay mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. During the Cannes film festival, he was cast beside Tye Sheridan and Will Poulter in war drama The Yellow Birds, an adaptation of a Kevin Powers novel being directed by David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints).

Radio Times said Moffat also acknowledged the downside of Cumberbatch's fame and success. "It can be quite annoying too if you're scheduling a damn show," it quoted him as saying.

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