Stephen Fry: I gave schoolboy Benedict Cumberbatch second place in an acting competition

The QI host was judging a competition at Harrow school when he came across the exotically-named young schoolboy


There’s already Oscar buzz for Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game – but it looks like the Sherlock star’s awards record began a little bit less successfully with a school-days snub from Stephen Fry.


In his new memoir More Fool Me, Fry remembers the occasion. “I once judged a reading competition at Harrow School which was called the Lady Bourchier Reading Prize…[and] I awarded one of the schoolboys, who went by the exotic name of Benedict Cumberbatch, second prize. Second.”

A crushing blow for a promising young thespian – but it sounds like Fry feels more worried about his own apparent lapse in judgement than any lingering feelings of inadequacy experienced by the future Sherlock star.

“I cannot remember the name of the boy who won first,” the QI host writes, “but I hope he will suddenly burst on to the acting scene, blow Benedict out of the water and finally vindicate my judgement.”

Still, Fry admits that the prospect is unlikely. “Something tells me that the contingency is a remote one, and I shall continue to look upon myself as the fisherman who let the big one go.”

Here’s hoping that this year’s Baftas, hosted by Mr Fry, didn’t give Benedict any unwelcome flashbacks… 


Stephen fry hosts QI on BBC1 tomorrow at 10:00pm