The snobbery of the TV? It is your loss, Benedict Cumberbatch tells actors

There is now a blurring between film and TELEVISION, that if any actor remains snob on the small screen in the middle, “it’s their loss” Benedict Cumberbatch said.

Cumberbatch was speaking after the first screening of the new BBC1 drama The Child in Time, in which he stars. A drama, an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s 1987 Whitbread award-winning novel – is due to air on Sunday 24 September.

Cumberbatch said that actors could not afford to be snooty about the work that they have taken.

“The lines are so beautiful, they are beautifully blurred between the large and small screen – unless you speak of something that is episodic,” he said.

“If you give him enough air and space, it [the TV] can feel cinematic, but I think that these words are so beautifully intertwined now that you can’t always separate the film and television. The kiss, it is to act. If it is the good material is good material.

“The ability to do a good job is there, regardless of the medium of the radio, television or film or on stage.”

Cumberbatch plays a writer for children who is going through one of the most painful situations, it is possible to imagine. It is in a supermarket to pay for his shopping and when he returns, his four-year-old daughter has disappeared.

All the people involved in the project admit that it is quite difficult to sell, because it seems so dark. But there is laughter and, as the drama unfolds, it is not unremittingly depressing.

Kelly Macdonald, who plays the wife of Cumberbatch’s character, said friends of hers had a startle when she told them that the theatre was about, because it sounds so miserable.

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“But it’s not,” she said. “It’s like a movie of love and life and hope and of the human being.”

Cumberbatch is one of the executive producers of the 90-minute drama. One of the most difficult scenes of the film is the scene where Cumberbatch loses his daughter.

It was difficult for practical reasons, director Julian Farino said, in that the store opened at 11am and they needed to be in by then after starting the shoot at 6.30 am.

The fact that Cumberbatch is a huge celebrity meant shooting on a London street has presented its own problems. “Running outside in a busy street and people saying, “can I have a selfie?’ It was hard and difficult and it is very weird,” said Cumberbatch. “You’ve just lost your child.”

• The Child in Time is on BBC1 on Sunday 24 September at 9 o’clock.