NEW YORK • Why does actor Benedict Cumberbatch cut such a dash as British literary detective Sherlock Holmes?
That's elementary, according to genealogy website Ancestry.com. Cumberbatch is distantly related to author Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the brilliant but quirky sleuth some 130 years ago, the website said yesterday.
Cumberbatch, 40, star of the Emmy-winning BBC television series Sherlock, is a 16th cousin, twice removed, of Conan Doyle.
The two are related through 14th- century English nobleman John of Gaunt who, according to records, was Cumberbatch's 17th great- grandfather and Conan Doyle's 15th great-grandfather, Ancestry researchers said.
John of Gaunt, born about 1340, was a son of England's King Edward III, meaning that Cumberbatch and Conan Doyle also have a distant royal connection.
"How rare that an actor in a major series has the chance to play a character created by a relative, especially one as iconic as Sherlock Holmes," said Ms Jennifer Utley, a family historian at Ancestry.
Sherlock, a modern twist on the life and investigations of the 19th- century London detective, first aired in 2010 and returns for its fourth series on Sunday on both American and British TV.