As the crime-fighting super sleuth Sherlock Holmes, he has faced some pretty nasty characters during his investigations. But Benedict Cumberbatch found himself in the middle of a real-life drama that could have cost him his life - if he hadn't talked his way out of it.

In 2005, the 35-year-old was in South Africa filming the TV mini-series To The Ends of the Earth and had gone to Santa Lucia, on the northeast coast near Mozambique, to learn scuba-diving with two friends. But as he was driving back to his hotel with actress Denise Black and a South African friend, a tyre on their car blew and they were attacked by armed car jackers.

Benedict said that the men appeared as they were trying to change the tyre and added: 'They said, "put your hands on your head, don’t look at us", and were frisking us for drugs, money, weapons.Then they bundled us into the car.

He said they were held hostage and driven off along a dirt track. And when the gang finally stopped the car, Benedict, fearing for their lives, managed to talk the gang into letting them go after they dragged him into the boot of the car.

He said: "If you leave me in here, it’s not the lack of air, it’s the small space. There’s a problem with my heart and my brain. I will die, possibly have a fit, and it will be a problem for you. I will be a dead Englishman in your car. Not good".

He was pulled out of the boot and tied up to his two friends, who were left unharmed.

Benedict said: 'It taught me that you come into this world as you leave it, on your own. It’s made me want to live a life slightly less ordinary.'