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Sherlock star waded in to defend rider after witnessing assault on Marylebone High Street last November

Benedict Cumberbatch may have portrayed villains such as Khan in the film Star Trek Into Darkness and Sauron in The Hobbit movie trilogy, but the actor has been hailed a “superhero” after it emerged he helped fight off a gang of muggers trying to rob a Deliveroo cyclist in central London.

The incident, which has only just come to light, happened last November in Marylebone High Street, a deerstalker hat’s throw from the Sherlock star’s fictional Baker Street home in the hit BBC TV series.

Cumberbatch, aged 41, had been travelling in an Uber with his wife, the director and playwright Sophie Hunter, when he spotted the four muggers punching the cyclist, with one of the assailants hitting him over the head with a bottle.

The vehicle’s driver, Manuel Dias, told The Sun: “I was taking Benedict and his wife to a club — but I didn’t know it was him at first.

“I went to turn down into Marylebone High Street and we saw four guys were pushing around a Deliveroo cyclist.

“My passenger jumped out, ran over and pulled the men away. They turned towards him and things looked like getting worse, so I joined in.

“He stood there instructing them in the street, shouting, ‘Leave him alone’.

“It was only then I recognised Benedict. Then it all got a bit surreal. Here was Sherlock Holmes fighting off four attackers just round the corner from Baker Street.”

He continued: “I had hold of one lad and Benedict another. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He was very brave. He did most of it, to be honest.

“They tried to hit him but he defended himself and pushed them away. He wasn’t injured. Then I think they also re­cognised it was Benedict and ran away.

“Benedict was courageous, brave and selfless. If he hadn’t stepped in the cyclist could have been seriously injured.

“He asked the rider how he was and when he said, ‘I’m OK’ Benedict just hugged him.

“The cyclist was lucky, Benedict’s a superhero,” he added.

According to The Sun, the Metropolitan Police Service confirmed they had been called to the incident in November, but no arrests were made.

A Deliveroo spokesman commented: "Deliveroo riders are heroes delivering millions of meals to hungry customers right across the country.

"Their safety is our priority and any violence against riders is totally unacceptable.

"We’d like to thank Benedict Cumberbatch for his heroic actions. On behalf of everyone at Deliveroo: thank you so much."

Cumberbatch himself said: “I did it out of, well, I had to, you know ...”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.