SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: How Ian McKellen said no to a real life peerage

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: How Lord Of The Rings star Ian McKellen said no to a real life peerage

I can reveal that the eminent actor, now 81, who achieved worldwide acclaim when he starred as Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, has spurned a peerage

His triumphs on stage and screen have helped him amass a fortune of nearly £40 million – which would have been beyond the dreams of avarice when he was a young lad growing up in Wigan.

But, despite these immense riches, not to mention the knighthood conferred on him nearly 30 years ago, Sir Ian McKellen has no intention of cutting himself off from the working man.

Indeed, I can reveal that the eminent actor, now 81, who achieved worldwide acclaim when he starred as Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, has spurned a peerage. 

The disclosure is made by author Garry O’Connor, who is bringing out an updated paperback edition of his book, Ian McKellen: The Biography, next month.

‘Some of his close friends reliably told me that Ian, in the past couple of years, was offered one,’ says O’Connor. ‘But he turned it down.’

O’Connor points out that McKellen had qualms about accepting his knighthood in 1991.

‘He demanded that it was stated that it was given for ‘acting and social activism’,’ says O’Connor.

McKellen, an indefatigable campaigner for gay rights, is unstintingly generous, indulging friends, old and new, at every opportunity — and playfully reminds them that his role in The Lord Of The Rings franchise has given him the deepest pockets. 

Whenever he takes them out for a meal, which is often, he always says ‘Gandalf pays’, as he picks up the bill.

He also co-owns The Grapes pub in Limehouse, East London, with Evgeny Lebedev, publisher of the Evening Standard newspaper, who was ennobled this month by Boris Johnson.

Perhaps Lord Lebedev can persuade Sir Ian to change his mind about taking up a seat on the red benches.

Whenever he takes them out for a meal, which is often, he always says ‘Gandalf pays’, as he picks up the bill. He is pictured above in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Late-night drama leaves Fleming shaken and stirred

James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s great-niece, Hum, who is epileptic, claims breaking social distancing rules saved her life.

‘I had a seizure at 3am so severe I stopped breathing,’ says the 30-year-old. 

‘Luckily, the guy I’d been dating had been with me. Haters can say it was dangerous due to Covid but we’d been socially distanced dating. He’d finally stayed and thank God he had. He awoke to a weird noise and me aggressively twitching. By the time he found a light switch I’d turned blue.’

She adds: ‘I now have an Epilepsy Alarm Embrace watch [pictured]. If I have a seizure the alarm alerts my chosen ‘care givers’. Not the best arm candy but still worth it.’

James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s great-niece, Hum, who is epileptic, claims breaking social distancing rules saved her life. ‘I had a seizure at 3am so severe I stopped breathing,’ says the 30-year-old

As Harry and Meghan prepare to settle into their £11 million Santa Barbara mansion, I hope they spare a thought for those they left behind at Oxfordshire’s Soho Farmhouse. 

For I can disclose the club, once the couple’s favourite, endured a lightning strike on Wednesday that did for the pizza shack roof. 

‘It was split by the force of the strike,’ a club devotee tells me. 

‘The strike narrowly missed one of the staff. He was left with ringing in his ears.’ Now that’s a slice of luck. 

Eamonn flies into a rant at £5 mask

Daytime TV anchorman Eamonn Holmes resented paying £5 for a face mask recently.

‘I know I should have had my own one but, as I hadn’t, I couldn’t proceed through Belfast City Airport without a face mask,’ he says.

‘Very helpfully, I was directed to a vending machine which dispensed one on the receipt of £5.

‘Five quid? Just checking to see if they were made by The Dick Turpin Corporation! Daylight robbery.’

Wrong time of the year for Scrooge?

City ‘supermum’ Dame Helena Morrissey is not shrinking from boosting our battered economy

City supermum toasts Rishi…

City ‘supermum’ Dame Helena Morrissey is not shrinking from boosting our battered economy.

The mother of nine dined at the Ivy Kensington this week with her husband, Richard, to make the most of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s bill-slashing scheme. 

But food wasn’t at the top of her agenda when she shared a photo of herself knocking back a Bellini.

‘It’s come to this!’ she joked, ‘drink out to help out’. 

Helena, who ate a £24.95 sea bass, added: ‘Expensive, but the Eat Out To Help Out helps re the bill.’

Food wasn’t at the top of her agenda when she shared a photo of herself knocking back a Bellini

Radio 1’s new signing, Strictly Come Dancing star Vick Hope, is the station’s first Cambridge-educated DJ.

A student linguist, Hope says it wasn’t all cramming at her alma mater. ‘Sometimes you’ve got to say: this is a day off, this is a holiday.

‘When I was there, my thing was America’s Next Top Model.’ Useful study for a showbusiness career, at least. Hope is Radio 1’s most academically gifted broadcaster since the Oxford-educated Paul Gambaccini.

Who says its presenters are university challenged?

Roald Dahl’s daughter Lucy will not let a pandemic quash her creative spirit. The 55-year-old, whose mother was Oscar-winner Patricia Neal, has opened an art gallery in Massachusetts to exhibit her own photographs. 

The gallery is called Untamable, inspired by a pal. ‘My friend said to me, ‘you are untamed, unleashed and you need to be accountable for something’,’ explains Lucy. 

Claudia Winkleman admits that the homeschooling timetable she devised with film producer husband Kris Thykier for kids Jake, 17, Matilda, 14, and Arthur, eight, had to be revised.

‘We put enormous pressure on ourselves to give them organic meals, do science and craft sessions, and then gather to discuss the works of Charles Dickens. That’s just not the way it really is. We just have to muddle through as best we can.’

The Strictly presenter’s trademark fringe suffered during lockdown, too — it became so long that ‘birds and squirrels started nesting in it’. 

Kaftans are no laughing matter for comedian Miranda Hart. ‘I am never not wearing a kaftan until the day I die,’ she says. 

‘I am planning for that to be aged 120 as life is only beginning to get really good (note to young people). I now find all other clothes oppressive in every way. Kaftans rule. Over and out.’ 

Baroness Bra’s learning curves

‘Baroness Bra’ Michelle Mone is focusing on lifting spirits amid the A-level results chaos.

Sharing a picture of herself and her beauty blogger daughter, Bethany, 21, she writes: ‘Results day: often as stressful for parents as it is for kids. Grades don’t define you. I left school at 15 and not many people gave me much hope of being a high achiever.

‘As students receive their results, I’d urge you to remember that success is not predetermined by how ‘clever’ an A4 sheet of paper deems them.’

‘Baroness Bra’ Michelle Mone is focusing on lifting spirits amid the A-level results chaos

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