With The Imitation Game poised for release this Friday, there’s plenty of buzz around Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Alan Turing. But it turns out the 38-year-old didn’t just have acting prowess in his favour when bringing to life the Bletchley Park code breaker who played a crucial role in solving the Germans’ Enigma code.
It turns out Cumberbatch – who has been tipped by many to win an Oscar for the role – is distantly related to Turing whom he portrays in the biopic opposite Keira Knightley, Allen Leech and Mark Strong.
The actor and scientist are 17th cousins, both related to John Beaufort, the first Earl of Somerset, according to family history website Ancestry.
The claim is traced back through both their paternal lines, linking them to Beaufort who was born around 1373 and was himself an ancestor of the Henry VII.
But Turing isn’t the only significant connection to the Cumberbatch family. The actor’s third cousin twice removed is Noel Carlisle Rees who worked for British Military Intelligence during the Second World War and played a part in the smuggling of thousands of Allied soldiers out of Greece.
Among Cumberbatch’s other relatives are Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield – his sixth cousin – and John Paul Ferguson, a tea planter in India and the actor’s second great-grandfather.
“It would seem that there is a flair for espionage and bravery that has descended down multiple generations of Benedict Cumberbatch’s family tree,” says Miriam Silverman, UK content manager for Ancestry.
“It’s amazing to think that when stepping into the role of Alan Turing, he would not only be portraying a world class code breaker but a real life relation.”
The Imitation Game is released in cinemas on Friday 14th November. Read our review here – and watch interviews with the cast below…