Benedict Cumberbatch’s reading of Empress Hotel ‘seagull incident’ apology soars back into spotlight

Benedict Cumberbatch's reading of Empress Hotel 'seagull incident' apology soars back into spotlight

Four years after going viral, a letter apologizing for an infamous seagull incident at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress hotel is resurfacing online thanks to none other than Benedict Cumberbatch.

Canadians have a reputation for their apologetic nature and in 2018, one such apology had readers everywhere busting a gut.

Nova Scotia resident Nick Burchill penned a letter to staff at the Fairmont Empress to express his regret over an 18-year-old disaster, recounting the day a colony of gulls ransacked his hotel room and ruined an afternoon of high tea.

The reason? A suitcase full of pepperoni sticks he left near an open window in order to keep them cool. Burchill returned to his room to find pure chaos — between 30 and 40 gulls had invaded his room trying to get their piece of the pepperoni haul.

RELATED: Empress Hotel lifts ban on Nova Scotia man 17 years after seagulls trashed his room

“One was just bouncing around on the windowsill and I was kind of losing my temper at this point, so I took off one of my shoes and I threw it in the direction of the seagull, and both the seagull and the shoe went out the window,” Burchill recounted in his remorseful, but matter-of-fact apology letter.

Two years later, that apology letter has continued to resurface, this time making it into the archives of a renowned Youtube project dedicated to celebrating the art of written correspondence, “Letters Live.” 

The project aims to celebrate some of the best exchanges ever written by having “talented, inspiring, and high-profile artists” read them aloud. The artist this time around, Dr. Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, read aloud Burchill’s surreal seagull encounter.

“The last seagull, it was running around the room and this is a fairly large room, nice room — or it was,” Cumberbatch says in the video as he re-reads the letter for his audience.


While Cumberbatch’s dramatic performance of the letter was recorded last October, it was only shared to YouTube over the weekend. In the two days since it has already amassed more than 116,000 views, proving one of the more unusual tales in Empress Hotel history has wings.

Roger CollinsRoger Collins

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