A brief note came in from "he who shall not be named as a B.S.I." today with words that would be quite inflammatory in some parts: "How ridiculous that Benedict Cumberbatch is to be awarded a CBE at the tender age of 38, just as we learn that Sir Christopher Lee has died at the age of 93, having received his only 14 years ago."
And that says nothing of Jonny Lee Miller, now age 42, who seems to be getting a snub from Her Majesty (probably for stealing Sherlock out of London and putting him in New York City). Or that Peter Cushing at 89, only got an OBE (one notch down from the CBE) -- and he played Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who. Which brings us to Tom Baker, who also did that double duty for the Crown, and he's still waiting at 81.
If only we could find a guy who could play Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, James Bond, Robin Hood, and King Arthur. That guy should just get to marry the Queen.
Roger Moore got a CBE at 72 and was promoted to KBE four years later, so you can see that being James Bond and Sherlock Holmes (and Simon Templar and Ivanhoe) will get you.
Robert Morley got an OBE at the much younger age of 48, before he played Mycroft Holmes, and then was offered a knighthood at 66, only to turn it down. (Probably feeling like he hadn't served his country quite enough by not playing Sherlock or James Bond.) Mycroftian actor Charles Gray perhaps missed out on honors perhaps for playing a Bond villain, which counterbalances the equation.
Michael Caine, a faultier Sherlock Holmes, got his CBE at 59.
The closest I can find to Cumberbatch's youthful honour for a Sherlock is Sir Ian McKellen, who was given his CBE at 40 years of age, and was promoted to full knighthood twelve years later. McKellen plainly didn't get his for service as Sherlock Holmes, since most of us have yet to see it, but was primarily a TV and stage actor at the time of his CBE.
Does age really matter? Olympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds got her CBE honour at the tender age of 14. And if you do a little digging into that British honours list . . . well, you can do a lot of digging. There are a lot of names there. I'm not even sure I've come close to hitting all the Sherlocks who made that list. (No Basil Rathbone nor Jeremy Brett, sad to say.) Like every honor from the cult of Sherlock's own B.S.I. to the American movie Oscars, the British honours have their own whimsies, failings, and problematic parts.
But they sure do get folks excited every now and then.