The actor stunned devotees outside the Barbican theatre when he stepped out after a performance last week (ends07Aug15) and asked them to refrain from taking sneaky shots of their hero as Shakespeare's leading man, insisting the red lights of camera and cellphones he sees from the stage is "mortifying".

In a video clip of his plea, Cumberbatch told fans, "It may not be any of you here but it's blindingly obvious... I can't give you what I want to give you which is a live performance that you'll remember, hopefully, in your minds and brains whether it's good, bad or indifferent, rather than on your phones. There's nothing that's less enjoyable or supportive as an actor on stage experiencing that."

The Sherlock star told his fans that he hoped his plea to them would encourage them to spread the word, adding, "What I really want to do is try and enlist you. I don't use social media and I'd really appreciate it if you did tweet, blog, and hashtag this."

The Brit is the latest star to urge theatregoers to keep their cellphones in their pockets during London performances - James MCAvoy lost his cool onstage at Trafalgar Studios in 2013 when he spotted a fan sizing him up for a shot while he was starring in MACbeth, and Kevin Spacey took aim at an audience member whose phone started ringing during a performance of Clarence Darrow at London's Old Vic theatre.

And just last month (Jul15), Patti LuPone released a statement after confiscating an audience member's cellphone after she caught him texting during her Broadway play Shows for Days.

The stage veteran said the incident made her think about future stage roles, stating, "We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones.

"They cannot put them down. When a phone goes off or when a LED screen can be seen in the dark it ruins the experience for everyone else - the majority of the audience at that performance and the actors on stage. I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore."

LuPone also halted a performance of her Tony Award-winning show Gypsy in 2009 and lashed out at an audience member who took a phone call.