Obsessed Benedict Cumberbatch Fans Tried to Have Me Fired

My encounter with internet fandom, and the rise of the celebrity relationship conspiracy theory.
Megan C
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My encounter with internet fandom, and the rise of the celebrity relationship conspiracy theory.

“You're [sic] employee is a FAKE! Getting jobs for favors. You should be ashamed. Do you know what she gets up to on twitter?”

My manager forwarded me the email, prefaced with a wry “?”.

It started, as so many online flaps do, with a thoughtless tweet. A starstruck friend and I had bumped into the popular actor Benedict Cumberbatch and his pregnant wife, and I made a faintly ironic tweet about it. Mentioning Cumberbatch would prove uneventful. Mentioning his wife would prove a mistake.

A couple of friends favorited it, as expected. Then the replies started. “How do you know it was his wife?” “What's his wife like?” 


I thought it odd but shrugged it off, unaware I was slowly becoming low-level infamous on a dark corner of Tumblr.

Members of the self-named “Skeptics” (a group of exclusively female Cumberbatch fans who believe that his wife is, variously: a prostitute, a hired PR girlfriend, a blackmailer, a con artist, a domestic abuser, mentally ill, and apparently the most brilliant criminal mastermind of all time, and that the marriage, his wife's pregnancy, and very existence of their child have all been faked in a wide-ranging international conspiracy orchestrated by a 30-something British opera director in an attempt to force a naïve and helpless movie star to pretend to be married to her) had discovered me, and they were not impressed.

As a result of my tweet, I discovered my entire career and online footprint being pored over in an attempt to find evidence that I was yet another person involved in the conspiracy. Being British was a strong sign. Having tweeted about celebrities before was even more suspicious. 

Having once worked for the same company that once employed Sophie Hunter, now Mrs Cumberbatch, proved it: I was evidently being paid to tweet in order to convince dubious fans that Benedict Cumberbatch has a pregnant wife.