Sir Ian’s first TV BAFTA

Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen

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Sir Ian McKellen has been nominated for his first ever BAFTA TV award.

The actor, who grew up in Wigan, was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role in The Dresser, also starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.

It was just the law of the land, and people like me were queer. We were odd, we were peculiar, strange, different

Sir Ian McKellen

He faces off against Cyril Nri for the Russell T Davies drama Cucumber as well as Anton Lesser for Wolf Hall and Tom Courtenay for Unforgotten.

This is Sir Ian’s first TV Bafta nomination, although he has been nominated three times for a film BAFTA.

Fresh from criticism there was no black actors nominated at the Oscars, the BAFTAs claims there is more diversity, with a mix of gay, black, white and disabled talent.

BAFTA chairwoman Anne Morrison said: “You’ve got a real range in diversity across ethnicity and so on, right across the board. There is still further to go, and in BAFTA we are very hot on diversity, we have big new talent programmes to try and make sure that the whole industry is as diverse as possible.”

Meanwhile, Sir Ian spoke candidly about receiving a “barrage of death threats” when he first came out as gay.

He told The Guardian: “It was just the law of the land, and people like me were queer. We were odd, we were peculiar, strange, different. It was only when I got out of school, away from family, away from church, and all those influences, that I arrived in Cambridge and discovered there were other boys like myself. We called ourselves camp, not queer.

“Society treated us unfairly and cruelly, without thought and without compassion, and made the world a worse place.”