Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular role in the TV series and insists that while he has carved out a career in Hollywood, he isn't ready to turn his back on the programme because he loves playing the detective so much.

He said: "If we can keep the quality up, I can't imagine that I will ever get tired of being Sherlock. I'd love to play him as an old man.

"I really, really love my job. I love sets. I love crews. I love theatres. I love audiences."

The 38-year-old actor, who recently got engaged to British theatre director Sophie Hunter, is often surprised by his heartthrob status as he never expected to be as popular as he is.

He said: "I'm tickled pink.

"I have boyfriends coming up to say, 'My girlfriend is obsessed with you,' and I say, 'I'm so sorry.' "

Cumberbatch was particularly shocked that so many fans turned out to see him at the premieres of 'The Imitation Game' across the world.

He added to Vogue magazine: "I haven't seen that kind of female adulation since Orlando Bloom. I didn't expect that level of hysteria, but it's wonderful.

"The wonderful thing about Ben is that he's having a great time. It's nice to see somebody getting what he always wanted and then really enjoying it."

But Cumberbatch doesn't believe the hysteria will last and is determined not to let it change him.

He said: "I sometimes worry about the currency surrounding the furor - the internet, the teens, I'm careful that it doesn't obscure other things that I care about. When somebody says I'm perfect for a role because it will get an audience, that immediately makes me go cold.

"The adoration thing is amazing, but it won't carry on forever, and I want my work to carry on forever. Or at least for the next 40 years."

Despite being pleased by his huge legion of fans, the 'Sherlock' star finds it strange when supporters ask him to sign pictures of otters, an animal he's said to resemble.

He told: "It's a great disservice to a wonderful woodland amphibious creature."