TV executives must have thought that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, with his popularity and BAFTA award winning acting, would give an ideal performance for the portrayal of King Richard III in BBC’s The Hallow Crown: The Wars of the Roses.

However, it seems that the broadcasters may have accidentally been more historically authentic than they first anticipated, as genealogist Professor Kevin Schurer has revealed that Cumberbatch is a third cousin of Richard III sixteen times removed.

The professor used DNA testing to trace the line of descent from Edward III. It is estimated that 1-17 million people in the UK are connected in some way to the monarch but Cumberbatch is more directly related as a third cousin. Prof. Schurer said: “Most other relatives would be much lower order cousins.”

This is not the first time the actor has been so genetically ideal for a chosen role as genealogists claimed he was related to codebreaker Alan Turing who he played in the film The Imitation Game. If Cumberbatch is connected in such a way to any more roles he portrays, for some it may be stretching the boundaries of pure-coincidence.

Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 during the War of the Roses and buried in a church in Leicester, which was later destroyed and the site was being used as a car park when a dig led by University of Leicester Archaeological Services discovered his remains there.

Richard is set to be re-buried at Leicester Cathedral in March.

Thousands of people from around the world applied for tickets for the ceremony in an online ballot.

Benedict Cumberbatch is set to play King Richard III in the upcoming BBC drama The Hollow Crown: Richard III.

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