It is no secret that BBC drama Sherlock and its stars Benedict Cumberbatch are enormously popular in the world’s most populous country.
But what is perhaps less well known is the nicknames Chinese fans have given the two stars of the hit drama: Curly Fu and Peanut.
Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is known as Curly Fu – Curly because of the coils of locks he sports for the role and Fu which is a shortening of Holmes in Chinese.
Freeman, who plays John Watson, is called Peanut for the rather more mundane reason that the actor’s name in its Chinese form – Hua Sheng – sounds a lot like the Mandarin for the nut.
The country’s fixation on Sherlock was thrown into sharp focus during David Cameron’s official visit last week.
After the Prime Minister set up a profile on Chinese social media site Sina Weibo, the most popular message he received was: “Please urge Sherlock crew to be quick! They have had us waiting for two years for every season!”
Cameron answered: “I know that Benedict [Cumberbatch] is hugely popular in China; he’s a big star. Sadly I can’t tell them what to do, as it’s an independent company, but I know how popular Sherlock Holmes is, and the modern adaptation, I think, is a brilliant adaptation. Of course people can always go back and read the original Conan Doyle stories, which are wonderful, but I will do everything I can to say that people in China want more Sherlock Holmes and more of the modern version.”
However, the bad news that Cameron failed to impart is that Chinese fans will have to wait longer than the 1 January UK air date for Sherlock series three to reach them. Fingers crossed for Chinese New Year instead…