Benedict Cumberbatch to play angel in star-studded Neil Gaiman fantasy Neverwhere

The Sherlock star is among a who’s who of cult character actors in the Radio 4 production about the magical world of London Below

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Benedict Cumberbatch to play angel in star-studded Neil Gaiman fantasy Neverwhere
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A who's who of sci-fi and fantasy actors is lining up for a new radio version of Neil Gaiman's fantasy Neverwhere.

James McAvoy, star of the X-Men movies, heads up the cast, along with Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch and Natalie Dormer, formerly of BBC3’s supernatural drama The Fades and currently filming Game of Thrones.

Homeland’s David Harewood and his fellow Doctor Who alumni Sophie Okonedo and Brenard Cribbins are joined by Anthony Head, star of Merlin and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as Saruman (and Dracula) himself, Sir Christopher Lee.

Neverwhere is the tale of businessman Richard Mayhew (McAvoy) whose life is turned upside-down when he comes to the aid of a young woman named Door (Dormer). In helping Door, Richard ceases to exist in his own world – London Above – and is transported to the magical parallel universe that lurks beneath it – London Below, where the capital's landmarks take on new significance.

Knightsbridge is the Night's Bridge, which demands human life as its toll, while other famous places become characters in themselves. Christopher Lee is the Earl of Earl's Court, while Benedict Cumberbatch is the mysterious angel Islington and Bernard Cribbins plays another underworld inhabitant, Old Bailey. 

Last night, Harewood – who stars as trickster the Marquis de Carabas – posted a photo on Twitter of the cast holding a banner bidding Gaiman "Greetings from London Below!". Gaiman himself will be a narrator in Neverwhere, but was unable to join the actors for the recording.

Neverwhere began life in 1996 as a six-part BBC2 TV series co-created by Gaiman and Lenny Henry, before being expanded into a novel by Gaiman. It has also inspired a series of graphic novels and a stage play.

The new adaptation is expected to air early next year, with the opening episode broadcast on Radio 4 and the remaining five instalments on its sister station 4 Extra.