Sussex-educated Benedict Cumberbatch up for Best Actor at the Oscars

Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game © Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game © Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy - Credit: Alamy

On Sunday all eyes will be on Sussex-educated Benedict Cumberbatch, up for an Oscar in The Imitation Game. In the film, also up for Best Picture, he gives a nuanced performance as computer pioneer and code-breaker Alan Turing, whose early years were spent in Sussex.

In Upper Maze Hill, St Leonards, a blue plaque marks the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, who helped the Allies to victory by breaking German codes during World War II. He spent his early years living in St Leonards before going away to boarding school.

The Imitation Game tells the story of Turing’s formative experiences at Sherborne School in Dorset, and juxtaposes his heroic work in breaking the Enigma code with his arrest and persecution for homosexuality. Benedict Cumberbatch, who attended Brambletye Prep School in West Sussex, gives a committed and moving performance.

Turing, who was also a pioneer of modern computing, was convicted of homosexuality and chose chemical castration over imprisonment. He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning, many believe by his own hand.

Unveiling the plaque in 2012, Deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council, Peter Chowney, described Turing as “one of the most remarkable people ever to have lived”.

“I think it is only right that we mark the town’s connection with this amazing man, who changed the world twice.

“His work on the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during the Second World War allowed us to pinpoint German U-boats and protect the north Atlantic convoys, without which the outcome of the war could have been very different,” Mr Chowney said.

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“His subsequent work, showing that complex mathematical calculations could be reduced to binary code and represented by a simple on/off switch, led to the development of the modern digital computer, and was similarly world-changing.

“It was a tragedy that his life was cut short.”



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