HE IS the heartthrob who has taken Hollywood by storm and become a firm favourite with film and TV fans.

Now Benedict Cumberbatch has come to Hampshire as part of a secretive shoot for a major television series.

The Sherlock star, who is frequently named one of the sexiest men alive, is filming a new Shakespeare adaptation in Winchester’s Great Hall.

The castle has been fenced off to the public during the three-week shoot, with all entrances to the ancient ruins barricaded until December 10.

Mr Cumberbatch is playing Richard III in The Hollow Crown, a BBC adaptation of Shakespeare’s historical plays.

It is unclear whether other stars of the series, including Dame Judi Dench, are also filming in Winchester.

The shoot is shrouded in mystery, with runners and cameramen variously telling the Daily Echo that they were filming Batman, an Emmerdale Christmas special and “Harry Potter 57”. But one crew member, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the star was on set filming The Hollow Crown.

“I don’t know whether he’s here today but he has been doing some scenes up there,” he said.

Tourists peered around the barricades and snapped photos of the set, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr Cumberbatch.

One curious onlooker said: “That would be really cool, if he was in there. I’m from Reading, where we don’t have these historic buildings.”

It comes after the Daily Echo revealed that scenes from Mission Impossible 5 were being filmed at Fawley Power Station, sparking a buzz of excitement that people could come face to face with star and Hollywood heavyweight Tom Cruise.

That followed just a few months after the cast of popular TV thriller 24 descended on Southampton docks to film scenes for the last series, Live Another Day.

The Great Hall, built in 1067, once formed part of Winchester’s Norman castle. Such historic sites are a magnet for filmmakers and this is not the first time the city has been sprinkled with Hollywood stardust.

Hundreds of sightseers flocked to Winch-ester Cathedral in 2012 as Russell Crowe starred in Les Miser-ables and the city has been the backdrop of movies such as The Da Vinci Code.

The final series of The Hollow Crown will air in 2016.