Behind the canvas of our Benedict Cumberbatch covers

Radio Times is graced by three paintings of the Sherlock star this week and now it's your turn...

We’re not sure if you’ve noticed, Cumberfans, but Radio Times magazine boasts three covers this week: not one, not two, but three paintings of Benedict Cumberbatch’s chiselled cheekbones. 


Artist Chris West was commissioned to daub three different Cumberbatches (a batch of Benedicts, if you will) to celebrate both the start of BBC1’s The Big Painting Challenge (hosted by Una Stubbs, aka Mrs Hudson), and this year’s Oscars, which sees Benny C himself nominated for best actor

Each of West’s portraits was inspired by an iconic artist. The first (left) is a tribute to Rembrant van Rijn, whose “signature approach was to work using earthy colours and a single light source,” says West.

The second (centre) picture sees the newly-wed Sherlock star painted in the style of Andy Warhol – “This started as pencil work that was then digitised to emulate screen printing”. While the third (right) was painted using oil on canvas in the style of Vincent Van Gogh. “Van Gogh was more interested in colour, shape and patterns than creating exact likenesses, so I parodied Benedict a little bit in this.

“There’s nothing harder for an artist than a pretty man with a well proportioned face,” adds West. “Benedict’s face is long, with plenty of character. It’s an excellent face to paint.” 

We’re quite sure a lot of you know that already. A quick flick through social media reveals that West is far from the first to turn those cheekbones into art. If you are an artist – experienced or fledgeling – each Radio Times magazine also comes with four free postcards on which to paint or draw your own masterpiece (it need not be a batch of Cumberbatches).

For a chance to win £500 in art materials and see your work exhibited at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, enter your postcards in The Little Painting Challenge – a competition for viewers of The Big Painting Challenge, which begins this Sunday on BBC1.

And if you were creating portraits of the Sherlock star long before Chris West, we’d love you to send us your own drawings, sketches and paintings. 

Just tweet, Facebook or email us at with your Cumberbatch fan art – and we’ll publish a gallery of our favourites on!  


Read more about the Cumberbatch covers and find out about how you can take part in The Big Painting Challenge with Radio Times magazine