Entertainment & Arts

Sir Ian McKellen to host bus tours of Richard III locations

Sir Ian McKellen Image copyright EPA
Image caption Sir Ian McKellen is spearheading the BFI Shakespeare programme

Sir Ian McKellen is adding a new role to his impressive CV - that of a bus tour guide.

The star of stage and screen is to host public tours of the London locations seen in the film in which he played Richard III more than 20 years ago.

The film, directed by Richard Loncraine, was set in an alternative fascist 1930s England.

Locations included St Pancras station, Battersea Power Station and the building that is now Tate Modern.

"I've always thought it might be fun to take a bus tour around the sites of Richard III," Sir Ian said at the BFI on Monday.

"You would watch snippets of the film sitting in the coach and then arrive at the actual location and see it."

The bus tour is part of the BFI Presents Shakespeare on Film season, which runs in April and May to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

Sir Ian is spearheading the project, which is billed as the BFI's biggest ever programme of Shakespeare on screen in the UK and across the world.

A screening of Richard III, with a post-film on-stage discussion between Sir Ian and Loncraine, will be simulcast across UK cinemas on 28 April.

The 1995 film's starry cast included Dame Maggie Smith, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Dame Kristen Scott Thomas, Robert Downey Jr and Dominic West.

"What a cast we had!" Sir Ian said. "Half of Downton Abbey is in it. I was thrilled when Maggie, who is only a little bit older than me, agreed to play my mother."

Other highlights of the Shakespeare on Film programme include:

  • An international tour of 18 British films to 110 countries including Cuba, Iraq and Russia.
  • Play On! A compilation Shakespeare films from the silent era - including the first ever Shakespeare film King John (1899) - with a new live score by the musicians of Shakespeare's Globe.
  • New 4K restorations of Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet and Akira Kurosawa's Ran.

BFI head curator Robin Baker said the bus tour had been Sir Ian's idea and the details of the route were still being worked out.

"The BFI has never done a bus tour - it's a definite first," he said.

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