Benedict Cumberbatch stars as aristocrat addict playboy Patrick Melrose in Showtime’s five-part limited series based on the Patrick Melrose series of semi-autobiographical novels written by Edward St Aubyn. The TV project, written by One Day author David Nicholls, follows Melrose’s childhood, alcoholism, heroin addiction, recovery, marriage, and parenthood.

Cumberbatch at TCA via satellite.
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Reminded he had once said if he could play any literary character it would be this project’s titular role as a man who suffered an abusive father and condoning mother, a TV critic wondered why.

Cumberbatch cited his “passion” for the books, calling St. Aubyn the best prose stylist of our day,  with his “richly comic scalpel.”

Set in the south of France in the 1960s, New York in the 1980s and Britain in the early 2000s, each episode dramatizes one St. Aubyn novel. Hugo Weaving plays Melrose’s father, Jennifer Jason Leigh is his mother, Anna Madeley plays his wife, Allison Williams an acquaintance and Blythe Danner his wealthy Park Avenue aunt.

“What a great canvas to play with,” Cumberbatch gushed, adding, via satellite, “My only hope is to try to do justice to that work.”

Having now fulfilled the other wish on his bucket list, by way of reminding the critics he has played Hamlet, “I can now retire,” Cumberbatch said.

EP Michael Jackson said he approached Cumberbatch about taking the role after reading his effusive tweet about the character.

“Did I say I was a stable genius in that tweet?” Cumberbatch joked – become Saturday’s third TCA participant to take a crack at a joking about that morning’s unhinged tweeting by President Donald Trump:

“Here is something positive that happened because of Twitter,” EP Michael Jackson said of Cumberbatch’s tweet about his desire to play Melrose.

“World War can come out of Twitter but I got a role out of it,” Cumberbatch snarked.