Actor Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty on the BBC's Sherlock, has come out gay.

Scott has previously hinted at his sexual orientation, including a reference during an interview in January about living with his partner in London.

In a new interview with the UK's The Independent, Scott stumbles over his sexuality when he explains that as “a gay person” he avoided Russian President Vladimir Putin in looking for a Russian accent for the film Legacy.

“There isn't a huge amount of footage of Russians speaking English as a second language, so I started looking at Vladimir Putin videos on YouTube. But then Putin introduced anti-gay legislation this summer – so, being a gay person, I switched to Rudolf Nureyev videos instead. It was another Nureyev defection of sorts!”

He added: “Mercifully, these days people don't see being gay as a character flaw. But nor is it a virtue, like kindness. Or a talent, like playing the banjo. It's just a fact. Of course, it's part of my make-up, but I don't want to trade on it. I am a private person; I think that's important if you're an actor.”

“But there's a difference between privacy and secrecy, and I'm not a secretive person. Really I just want to get on with my job, which is to pretend to be lots of different people. Simple as that.”