Both stars, who were thrust into the limelight last year as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor and the quirky detective Sherlock Holmes, have been nominated for best Drama Performance.
Philip Glenister also competes for the title, for his role in Ashes to Ashes, as does five times National Television Awards winner David Jason for A Touch of Frost.
Smith, 28, and 34-year-old Cumberbatch's BBC1 dramas, Doctor Who and Sherlock, have also been shortlisted for Best Drama, against rivals Shameless (Channel 4) and BBC1 series Waterloo Road.
X Factor host Dermot O'Leary will be up for his first National Television Award for Best Entertainment Presenter at the ceremony, which takes place later this month.
He will compete against Britain's Got Talent stars Ant and Dec, who are aiming for their record-breaking 10th consecutive win in the category.