Benedict Cumberbatch is engaged to theatre director Sophie Hunter

Benedict Cumberbatch’s most ardent admirers received some surprising news this week. The Sherlock actor is engaged to his theatre director girlfriend, Sophie Hunter.

The pair have been dating discreetly since at least June when they were spotted at the French Open. However, their friendship dates back many years to 2009 when they appeared in the film Burlesque Fairytales.

CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR GALLERYBenedict Cumberbatch and Sophie announced their engagement in the newspaper

While his fans will be mourning the end of his single days, they will appreciate the stylish way their 38-year-old hero chose to break the news. His parents announced the engagement in the Forthcoming Marriages section of The Times.

Sightings of the duo together are extremely rare. Sophie, 36, was not even by Benedict’s side during the 2014 Oscars ceremony when he rubbed shoulders with Hollywood luminaries such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Sophie Hunter has known the actor since 2009

So what’s known about the attractive brunette, who has snagged one of the few remaining eligible bachelors after George Clooney’s recent marriage?

An Oxford graduate, who read French and Italian at the university, Sophie also studied at the prestigious Jacques Lecoq school of theatre in Paris. She can sing too, once recording a French-language music album The Isis Project with Robbie Williams’ songwriting partner Guy Chambers.

No wonder this talented thesp is his real-life leading lady. Last year, the actor described his ideal partner as “a woman who can make you feel smart with her conversation skills”.

The announcement was published by Benedict’s parents

He added: “A woman who knows that she doesn’t have to get all decked out to look good is sexy. I believe sense of humour is important. I also think someone who is good at working with others is sexy.”

It’s possible that Cumberbabies will be on the horizon soon. On the eve of the Star Trek premiere in 2013, the London boy who has become a global star spoke about his hopes for the future.

“I’m building a home at the moment,” he said, talking about renovations to his Hampstead apartment. “And it would be nice to fill that home with love and children.”

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