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"Provocative" Benedict Cumberbatch statue triggers surge in online flight bookings

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Fans around the world have reacted with delight to news that a provocative Benedict Cumberbatch effigy is to be unveiled at St Bart's hospital in London, to commemorate the Sherlock star's dramatic plunge there at the end of Season Two.

Airline price comparison sites including Skyscanner and FareCompare reported a 57% surge in online bookings to London ahead of the statue's unveiling this July.

Meredith Holmes, head of the London Tourism Authority, hailed the estimated £3million boast to the economy that the onslaught of Cumberbatch fans - commonly referred to as "Cumberbitches" - is expected to bring to the capital.

"It's particularly exciting that the sculpture's unveiling will coincide with the first birthday of Prince George," she commented. "Two of Britain's greatest exports will be celebrated at the same time."

The bronze-encased sculpture is being commissioned by the National Trust, in association with emerging street artist Bono Laduree. Laduree hopes to bring a contemporary twist to the artwork, describing it as "Banksy meets Auguste Rodin with Sherlock thrown in."

The Goldsmith graduate is famed for his provocative work and his projects typically features active participation by the celebrity featured. The artist has courted controversy in the past with criticism of his "gratuitous" use of nudity.

A mock-up of what the Benedict Cumberbatch statue could look like: image via galadhriela

There is speculation that the unveiling of Laduree's Sherlock statue - titled Freefall: A Pin-Up's Plunge To Oblivion - will be celebrated with a three-day live "immersion" by Cumberbatch, who will parade suggestively in front of fans and at times, mimic his plunge alongside the statue.

"I'm really honoured to be taking on the project," the 22-year-old artist said. " I think this will be a really cutting edge and thought-provoking work of art and having Cumberbatch in person for the launch is the icing on the cake."

The artist said he was considering whether to add a gold-embossed loin cloth to the statue to provide "extra titillation for the fans."

"I know Sherlock fans are a dedicated lot and I want to give them something really special," he said. "I really hope Benedict will like it. I love Sherlock."

There are rumours Benedict Cumberbatch will take part in the statue's unveiling, in a three-day live interaction event

The City of London borough, where St Bartholomew's Hospital is based, confirmed that it would be introducing an overnight queue system, with spare tents and a pop-up snack bar, to cater for the expected influx of fans.

But not everyone is pleased with news of the statue, which will hover over the edge of the hospital in an exact reenactment of Cumberbatch's infamous fall.

"It's going to be a nightmare - they'll be so much disruption from all the fans," said one St. Bart's medic, who wished to remain anonymous. "I just hope they don't expect to use our toilets."

Hayden Giles, of the Illonois group Cumberbatch Groupies Rejoice, said her members were "thrilled" at the news.

"We've already booked tickets out," she said. "We've got energy bars to see us through the night. We really hope to catch a glimpse of Ben, and ideally, his torso."

The moment when Cumberbatch's Sherlock plunges from the rooftops

Cumberbatch's fall from the top of St Bart's hospital, with Dr Watson (Martin Freeman) watching on was the most dramatic cliffhanger in the entire history of the hit BBC One series and became the most talked-about moments in TV in 2012.

"I think I’m allowed to say that I did my own stunt. I jumped off St Bart’s, which was great fun," the 37-year-old actor later said.

London mayor Boris Johnson hailed the statue's creation as "a historic moment for London."

"One hundred years from now, people will regard this statue with the same sense of pride and reverence as accorded to our other national treasures, including Big Ben and Nelson's Column," he said.

Update: April Fool's Day friends! We hope you enjoyed our (sadly) entirely fictional story and check out more (happily) completely true ones below!

Words: Anna Brech

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