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When Jeremy Corbyn met Benedict Cumberbatch…

Sherlock star and Labour Party leader take part in Letters Live event at the Union Chapel

09 March, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Deep in conversation: Jeremy Corbyn and Benedict Cumberbatch

AS one of the nation’s best-known actors, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch is used to sharing the stage and screen with big names.

But on Wednesday night, he found himself with a rather different co-star – Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

They were both on the bill for the sold-out Letters Live event at the Union Chapel, in Upper Street, where the audience heard celebrities and politicians read from notable or historical letters.

The Camden-based actor was later seen in conversation with Mr Corbyn for more than 20 minutes in a backstage room.

The Labour leader, a surprise addition to the line-up, initially struggled to find the microphone next to a two-metre-high pulpit. He then tried to come closer to the audience, prompting one woman to say: “That’s just like Jeremy to do that.”

“I’ve always wanted to speak from one of these,” he said as he was eventually guided up steps to the pulpit. He read a letter written by comedian Eric Idle, perhaps alluding to his love of the Monty Python TV series and films.

The second letter he read out was by author John Steinbeck, imparting romantic advice to his 14-year-old son Thomas. The letter ends: “The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”

Mr Cumberbatch read a letter by poet Robert Frost examining the feeling of loss after the death of his daughter following childbirth.

Other stars who read letters included musician Nick Cave and actors Olivia Colman and Matt Berry.

Speaking after the event, Mr Corbyn told the Tribune: “It was a moving night. I am indeed a Monty Python fan and loved the horizontal humour of Eric Idle. Steinbeck is one of the greatest writers and the letter to his son is so touching, understanding and loving.”


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