BENEDICT Cumberbatch and Nicole Kidman have scooped best actor and actress awards for their stage roles.

Mr Cumberbatch was named best actor in a play for his portrayal of Hamlet, which also won in three other categories at the WhatsOnStage Awards.

He faced stiff competition from fellow Hollywood star Bradley Cooper for his role in The Elephant Man, as well as James McAvoy, Mark Rylance and Alex Hassell for their performances in The Ruling Class, Farinelli And The King and Henry V respectively.

The blockbuster production of the Shakespeare classic at the Barbican was also named best play revival, best set design and best lighting design.

Ms Kidman won the gong for best actress in a play for her part in Photograph 51, which also picked up the top slot for best new play.

She was up against Rosalie Craig (As You Like It), Denise Gough (People, Places, Things), Harriet Walter (Death Of A Salesman) and Lia Williams (Oresteia).

The winners, decided by a vote of theatregoers and announced at a ceremony at the Prince of Wales Theatre in central London, also included Dame Judi Dench who won best supporting actress in a play for her work in The Winter's Tale.

Matt Henry bagged best actor in a musical for Kinky Boots, which was also voted best new musical, while Imelda Staunton won best actress in a musical for Gypsy, which also came top in three other categories.

The best West End show went to Les Miserables.

Mark Gatiss, who won best supporting actor in a play for his role in Three Days In The Country, said the Sherlock cast are "a family" and described the show as "life changing".

"We start filming Sherlock in April, three more episodes," he added.

"It will be out next year, so only a year to wait.

"We're a family, we've done seven years now - it's a hell of a long time.

"It's an incredible worldwide success, it's been life-changing."

He said winning the award was "delightful and a complete surprise".

Gatiss described Cumberbatch as "wonderful as Hamlet" and added: "The response to it is astonishing."