Benedict Cumberbatch WWII drama opens the London Film Festival

'The Imitation Game' is released in cinemas November 14

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the WWII drama The Imitation Game which has opened the London Film Festival.

Based on the true story of mathematicians working to crack the German Enigma code, the Sherlock star plays Alan Turing. He led a team who developed a machine which decoded intercepted Nazi messages allowing the Allies to hasten the end of the war and save thousands of lives.

Speaking to fans during a rain soaked red carpet event in London’s Leicester Square this evening (October 8), the actor said The Imitation Game was a great reminder of Turing’s legacy. “He managed to be a biologist, a computer scientist, he worked with artificial intelligence… His work with algorithms was groundbreaking. It was his idea to create a universal machine, this prototype mechanism which is our modern day computer. We’ve had people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, icons of the modern computing age, acknowledge his contribution. It really is enormous. His algorithms, which were used to break the Enigma code and crack that cryptography, are the same algorithms in place today with internet search engines. Isn’t that incredible?”

He added: “It shows the dark stain of how this country treated him, a country that was liberated from the Nazi threat by his work then turned on him and persecuted him for his sexuality. It is the sickening irony of his heroism that it was rewarded in such a manner.”

Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 and, as an alternative to a prison sentence, was chemically castrated. He committed suicide in 1954. He was granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen in 2013.

Also starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Charles Dance, The Imitation Game is released in cinemas November 14.