The Sherlock star's 12-week run in the William Shakespeare play sold out in just seven hours, and extra tickets were awarded via a ballot system while fans camped outside the Barbican Centre in London in a bid to see his performance on the day.

The role has now landed him on trade publication The Stage's annual list of the 100 most influential people in theatre, at number 15, the highest actor on the chart.

He is closely followed by Imelda Staunton at 16 for her run in musical Gypsy. The actress won the Best Performance in a Musical prize at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards in November (15) for her role, and she is in talks to transfer the production to Broadway.

Both actors are nominated for WhatsOnStage Awards for their performances, and will find out if they are winners on 21 February (16).

Other new entries on the list include Sir Kenneth Branagh, who launched his own theatre company last year (15), and British actress Sheridan Smith, who has taken over Barbra Streisand's iconic role as Fanny Brice in a revival of musical Funny Girl.

The production will transfer to London's Savoy Theatre in April (16) after its current sold-out run at the smaller Menier Chocolate Factory venue.