Benedict Cumberbatch punched a journalist to defend Keira Knightley’s honour

News of the Sherlock star's strong reaction to one reporter's uncouth remark comes after his freak spate of sign holding last year

Monday 09 June 2014 16:27 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


He is known for his dislike of the press.

But Benedict Cumberbatch took his disapproval of one journalist’s comment about friend Keira Knightley to a new level when he punched him on the arm.

Speaking about the incident to Elle magazine, Knightley recalled: "When I saw him [Benedict] again, I said, 'Did you punch a journalist?' and he was like, 'I f***ing did.' Everybody needs a friend like that."

Film critic Mark Kermode has since tweeted to claim that he was the on the receiving end of the punch Knightley was talking about.

He told the Metro in 2009: "An actor very gently punched me on air for saying something about Keira Knightley. I called her Ikea Knightley as her acting was so wooden."

And she’ll most likely be awarded the same level of protection as the pair take to the promotional trail for their new film, the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game, out on 14 November, too.

Cumberbatch – heard earlier reading the 8am news from D-Day in 1944 on BBC Radio 4 – has enjoyed an interested relationship with the press over the years.

Most famously, he went through a freak spate of sign-holding in protest to photographers attempting to snap him on the set of Sherlock in 2013.

"Go photograph Egypt and show the world something important," one hand-written paper note, captured by the waiting pap, read.


As if suddenly realising that using the media is a great way to get messages out to the general public, he went on a sign rampage again, this time at an airport in a vain attempt to appeal to Prime Minister David Cameron.

His messily scrawled note read: "Questions we have a right to ask in a democracy."

This one was, however, a little too cryptic to have any deep and lasting impact on the hearts and minds of the general public, who weren’t sure quite what he was referring to.

Legend has it that he was commenting on the detention of David Miranda – the partner of the Guardian journalist who broke stories of mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency – at Heathrow Airport, though no one could confirm otherwise.

So he released a four-page hand-written message to explain himself.

"Hard drives smashed, journalists detained at airports… Democracy?" page one of four read.

"Prior restraint. Is this the erosion of civil liberties winning the war on terror…?" the second said.

The third was largely obscured by a man’s head, but was later confirmed to read: "What do they not want you to know? And how did they get to know it? Does the exposure of their techniques cause a threat to our security or does it just cause them embarrassment...?" No idea what happened to the fourth.

In a less cerebral moment, Cumberbatch was recently seen posing with paper napkin over his face as he attempted to eat lunch with Dakota Johnson undisturbed by the waiting paparazzi:


No, we’re not quite sure what the message there was either. But he obviously hates the attention. Which is why he did this at the Oscars:

Read More: Cumberbatch 'First Sexy Sherlock Holmes' says China
Benedict Cumberbatch's aerial Oscars photobomb goes viral

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