Benedict Cumberbatch: “It was an amazing, extraordinary experience” filming at Bletchley Park

The Imitation Game actor opens up about shooting on location at the heritage site where code-breakers helped shorten the war

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Benedict Cumberbatch says that filming the story of wartime code-breaker Alan Turing in the place where he actually lived and worked was an “overwhelming” experience.

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Cumberbatch stars as the troubled genius in The Imitation Game, which was shot on location at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, where Turing spent the Second World War building an early computer that could crack encoded Nazi messages.

“To work in the environs where this actually happened, where people breathed, lived, loved and worked, struggled, kept secrets, were heroic, quietly stoically, was really overwhelming,” explained Benedict Cumberbatch in a recent podcast interview with Bletchey Park staff

“It was amazing, extraordinary experience. It was a very important part of the film, I think it wouldn’t have felt right to have a moment without Bletchley Park featuring properly… it made magic moments in the filming schedule. It really was very special.”

“At Bletchley Park you realised that everywhere you looked, the architecture, the sky, some of the trees were there way before any of [the code-breakers] were even there. It adds something, you really feel you are playing slightly with ghosts. It’s nerve-wracking because we’re fictionalising what really happened here.”

Bletchley Park is open to the public today, and visitors can take a look inside WW2 code-breaking huts and blocks, where Enigma messages sent by the German Army and Air Force were decrypted. An interactive exhibition features recorded stories told by the men and women who worked there as well as costumes worn by Cumberbatch and his co-star Keira Knightley in the movie.

The Imitation Game has been nominated for five Golden Globe awards and is in UK cinemas now.


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