- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2012

PASADENA, CALIF. (AP) - Benedict Cumberbatch is shrugging off British newspaper criticism of his female co-star’s nude scene in TV’s latest season of “Sherlock.”

It may be an effort to sell papers, he said, but it also helps the drama about a modern-day Holmes that will air its second season in the United States this May on PBS’ “Masterpiece Mystery!”

“It’s great publicity, isn’t it?” Cumberbatch told the Television Critics Association on Thursday. “I think there’s an awful lot of support for the way that we did it (the scene) and the taste that we did it with. And if it creates more interest in the program, thank you very much for that.”

In this week’s BBC-aired episode titled “A Scandal in Belgravia,” Holmes has a close encounter with a whip-smart dominatrix, Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), who gets under his skin by flashing much of hers. Some detractors said the scene was too racy to air early in the evening, when children are more likely to be watching TV.

“It’s not supposed to be a source of stimulation for the audience,” Cumberbatch said. “It’s supposed to throw his (Holmes’) radar off, which is exactly what it does.”

He played it coy on whether the hit series about Conan Doyle’s great detective and sidekick Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman) will return for a third season. The actor has become a hot property with film credits including “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “War Horse.”

During a Q&A by satellite from London, Cumberbatch pretended to seek legal counsel when asked if he would sign on for more “Sherlock.” He also consulted another fictional lawyer when queried about his role in the forthcoming “Star Trek” sequel from filmmaker J.J. Abrams.

“I’m just getting my head around the fact it’s happened. … I’ll give you my headline on it, which is, `I’m over the moon.’”

Cumberbatch, who’s going to the London premiere of “War Horse” this weekend, said Prince Charles also is expected to attend. “I work for him,” the actor added,” as ambassador for the Prince of Wales Trust that aids disadvantaged youth.

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