Benedict Cumberbatch playing The Master in Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Episode…?

Fanboys and fangirls would explode in a meta brain-crash.

Scheduling back  several trips to the UK, spaced out equally throughout the year, has helped me put up a good fight against the dribs and drabs of homesickness that often seep into the day. Watching TV is another solution, so I’ve been catching up on all the shows I took for granted while I was still living in the UK, shows that are relatively new and shows that I just miss watching. A lot.

Two of those shows in particular are Sherlock and Doctor Who, the love for the former borne out of the childhood love of all things Sherlock (even this), the latter just because, well, who didn’t grow up watching some incarnation of The Doctor? He’s probably the reason I loved jelly babies so much.

Having read the books, I can see how Benedict Cumberbatch was a great choice physically to play Sherlock:

“In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination. “

– A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 2: The Science of Deduction

So to imagine that someone who I think is perfect for the role of Sherlock playing The Master, might be a bit too much. He’s already ingrained himself in my mind as Sherlock, that to take those negative, sociopathic qualities and turn them into a pure villainous role just takes away the complexity of the character we have become used to him playing.

Exactly as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote him, Sherlock Holmes is tactless, arrogant, manipulative, condescending, even deceitful. Basically, kind of a jerk. But it’s all carefully played and written and directed so that you don’t want him to die at the end of every episode. I just don’t think you can take him and make him The Master because of one Radio Times article that got everyone’s Batman pants wet on Twitter, or because of the convenience of it being in the Moffat family as far as production/casting goes.

During David Tennant’s run, The Master had his own slow introduction, with a gradually-building story arc that took its time playing out. Because of this, I know The Master as John Simm. Cumberbatch is already Sherlock – would it just be too much to have him play The Master as well? Some online prayers are that Cumberbatch will take over Matt Smith’s role and actually be The Doctor as well as Sherlock, just because the former is a kinder, nicer, older version of the latter.

Sure, it would seem like a natural transition (and less furore about the casting this time), but it brings to mind the creepy ubiquitousness of Hugh Jackman when it was rumoured that he was in the running for both Superman and James Bond (pre-Daniel Craig) while already having the roles of Wolverine and (at the time) a potentially successful Van Helsing franchise (how could a movie in which a wooden horse cart explodes from toppling over be such a box-office flop?).

I’m sure, if he did take on the role for the 50th Anniversary episode, it would be played, written and directed very well, with a hint of an incestuous casting in-joke. More of a “special guest star” than a “special guest character”. And then he’ll go back to doing Sherlock and Matt Smith will go back to fighting other villains and the TARDIS will spin on.

And what of John Simm, if Cumberbatch takes the role? Well, I wouldn’t worry about him. I’m sure he’ll pop up somewhere, wherever there’s a twist in the tale…

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