Benedict Cumberbatch is set to depict Brian Epstein, famously dubbed “the fifth Beatle” by Sir Paul McCartney, in a new film.

Epstein, who died at the age of 32 from a drugs overdose, remained famously guarded about his sexuality, although it had been an open secret among his friends.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks also has a producing role in the new project.

The lead director is Paul McGuigan, who has already worked with Benedict Cumberbatch in four episodes of the BBC drama Sherlock, which stars the 36-year-old as the main character of Sherlock Holmes.

As well as The Beatles, Brian Epstein also managed 1960s pop group Gerry and the Pacemakers and the singer Cilla Black.

Epstein later became heavily involved in the UK’s 1960s drug scene.

Despite attempts to curb his use, the Liverpool-born star died on 27 August 1967, one month before England overturned its ban on homosexuality.

Cumberbatch recently appeared in the BBC Two drama Parade’s End and has two roles in Peter Jackson’s upcoming Hobbit film trilogy.

In a 1997 BBC interview, Sir Paul McCartney stated: “If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian [Epstein].”