Sir Ian is alive and kicking

Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes at 93
Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes at 93

AT the age of 75 Sir Ian McKellen is still a picture of perfect health, but there was a time when people thought he was dead.

The actor, who grew up in Wigan, was recently filming for the lead role in Mr Holmes, and as part of a promotion he was featured on the cover of an iconic publication - The Times - causing confusion amongst people.

Everyone thought I had died! I was on the front page of The Times

Sir Ian McKellen

He said: “The difficult make-up was when I was playing young; that took forever. They took a wonderful photograph of me aged up. The Times newspaper put it on the front.

“Everyone thought I’d died! There I was on the front page of The Times. You don’t land there unless something has happened to you. I got a letter the other day: ‘Are you alive’’”

Sir Ian added that he agreed to star in the film was because of how “interesting” he finds Sherlock as a character, especially his frail side and personal problems.

He also spoke about how he was very nearly prevented from doing the Lord of the Rings trilogy because he had agreed to do the X-men films.

He said: “I’d already agreed to do the first X-Men film. Suddenly the X-Men date shifted, so I couldn’t do it. I called Peter Jackson, director, of Lord of the Rings, up and said, ‘I’m sorry, I said ‘yes’ to Bryan Singer,X-Men director,’

“And he said, ‘I’ll keep it open if anything happens.’”

Luckily Bryan made sure that the X-Men schedule wouldn’t affect Lord of the Rings if the Middle Earth picture could be delayed.

Meanwhile, Sir Ian visited a school in Northampton to discuss gay rights.

The visit - which was part of his role as co-founder of Stonewall, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality charity - saw him talk to the students and staff at Northampton School for Boys about his career, his school days and his experiences of coming out as gay.

He also helped judge and select a winning poster from a large range of submissions from students, which will later be used to tackle discrimination within the school community.

And he also posed for the obligatory selfie.

And that was not his only school trip, as he talked to pupils at Haybridge High School and Sixth Form.