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Chinese fans give Sherlock and Watson bizarre nicknames and hail Benedict Cumberbatch as erotic icon

Introducing the affectionate Chinese terms of...Curly Fu and Peanut

BBC drama Sherlock has amassed legions of British fans but it would seem that none are quite as obsessed as the Chinese, who have made up some bizarre nicknames for the lead characters - "Curly Fu" and "Peanut" to be exact.

Why, nobody knows, but online comments have confirmed the affectionate terms for Holmes and his sidekick Watson to be widespread.

"Curly Fu" relates to 37-year-old Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock, who has an online forum dedicated to him in China called the Baidu Curly Fu Bar. The name "Curly Fu" is thought to stem from his hairstyle and the Chinese shortening of Holmes - "fu".

Watson's "Peanut" originates from the Chinese translation of Martin Freeman's name, "Hua Sheng" sounding like the Mandarin word for nut.

Fans using the message boards have described the English actor as a "male god", the BBC has reported. "He represents beauty and wisdom, but better with his clothes off and sexiest when he plays violin," said one avid viewer, while another commentator wrote that "the human race cannot stop the invasion of Curly Fu".

"I tore myself away from bed early this morning just to watch 90 minutes of my Curly Fu and Peanut," one fan wrote."The gay-citement has finally returned. PS: Thank you, Prime Minister Cameron, for visiting China."

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first episode of the new seres of Sherlock

Chinese Sherlock viewers are renowned for their determination to find a homosexual subtext to the show, with erotic fan fiction regularly created to explore the male duo's supposed bromance.

One story presents Holmes and Watson as young men working together in the Los Angeles porn industry, after Sherlock uses clues to discover that his detective parent has starting shooting adult films to help with his medical loans.

Other lines, quoted by Foreign Policy from stories such as "He Is My B***ch", "It’s Alright, I’m Here, Sherlock" and "I Write You This Letter From A Foreign Land" include "sexual desire coursed through Sherlock's chest as his heart beat wildly" and "Sherlock’s tongue was like an all-powerful key unlocking all the doors of (Watson’s) heart".

Many of those more devoted fans call themselves the "funu" - "rotten women" who like gay stories.

The first episode of Sherlock series three was launched on China's YouTube equivalent Youku for a free two hours after it aired in the UK.

Overnight, "The Empty Hearse" notched up close to 3 million hits, with Chinese fans flooding the country's microblogging website Weibo.

Beijing newspaper the Jinghua Times reported that most Chinese fans had first become drawn to Cumberbatch for his good looks and 'bad guy' role as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.