Archie Bland: You're a posho, Benedict, just shut up about it

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Archie Bland
Wednesday 15 August 2012 11:25
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I know what it's like, Benedict Cumberbatch. When your name sounds like Snozzlebert Mugglewump, or is an abbreviation of Archibald, and everything about your bearing and hair suggests, accurately, that you went to public school, it is easy to feel, as you say you do in a Radio Times interview, that there's a lot of "posh-bashing that goes on". It's "so predictable, so domestic, so dumb": the weight of your good fortune hangs around your neck like a millstone. You feel justified in giving arch warnings that it's enough to drive a fellow to America. You feel misunderstood.

Benedict, I am here to tell you: just shut up about it, seriously. You are wrong. As your wild popularity proves, no one is anything more ominous than benignly amused that your name sounds like Fiddly-Dee Ponky-Tonk, and the ones who feel more hotly about it are certainly not casting directors.

When you have been so very lucky, it's as well not to point out that although you won a scholarship to Harrow, you weren't "born into land or titles"; that's a distinction that will only seem relevant to people who see the world from exactly the same point of view as you. In fact, when that education and the social benefits it brought with it have helped propel you into a position where you get to act for a living, it's best to complain as little as possible.

This isn't about denying the rights of the famous to have feelings; I don't mean for a second that if someone shouts "FETCH THE CAVIAR, IT'S RINKYDINK CURDLESNOOT, THE GREAT PONCE" at Cumberbatch in the street, he isn't entitled to feel aggrieved. And it's never fair to judge anyone if their sense of their own privations fails to consider where they fall on the global trauma scale: all of us, after all, are occasionally annoyed when the tea runs out. But the idea that we are in the grip of some sort of crisis of inverse snobbery is simply ludicrous.

Look around you, Benedict. Look at the balance of power in the Government; at Team GB; look, I'm afraid to say, at the media. Count the references to Mr Cameron's Eton days – the only "posh-bashing" you can possibly be thinking of, and, while cartoonish, not a wholly irrelevant point as the Government enacts cuts that will fall so disproportionately on people not called Blimpleswitch Wafflechops.

Then count the stories that dwell on the shortcomings of "chavs", even when that word isn't used, mostly for their lifestyle choices. If you still feel like moving to America, we'll miss Sherlock, but do it if you must. As you board the plane and turn left, at least, Benedict, remember this: most of the people with something serious to feel aggrieved about won't have the option to do the same.

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