The actor was an unknown to America's Home Box Office team

Sherlock and War Horse star Benedict Cumberbatch plays Christopher Tietjens in the upcoming joint BBC/HBO adaptation of Parade’s End, but he nearly didn’t get the part.

HBO bosses, who brought us the hugely successful Sex And The City, had to be convinced to hire Benedict, 36, for the role.

‘Christopher was probably the hardest character to cast because he’s such a buttoned-up Englishman who doesn’t show his emotions, and yet you have to fall in love with him and want to follow his journey over five hours,’ director Susanna White tells the Daily Telegraph.

‘Benedict seemed so right for the part but he was less well-known when we started out.

‘There was a famous breakfast at The Ivy when HBO said, “Who is this Benedict Cumberbatch?” And we said, “Trust us, he’s a truly great actor and by the time Parade’s End has come out everyone will have heard of him.”‘

It’s hoped Parade’s End, a 5-part love triangle drama set in First World War England, will be a hit in the US and the UK.

Benedict looks a lot ‘heavier’ playing the role of Christopher..

‘I wore a fat suit under my clothes and had bumpers in my cheeks,’ the actor reveals.

‘They attach like a brace to your teeth to make your face look plumper.’

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