Manchester

Sir Ian McKellen: Wigan honours Gandalf and Magneto star

Sir Ian McKellen
Image caption Sir Ian lived in Wigan between the ages of three and 11

Sir Ian McKellen is to be honoured by his childhood hometown of Wigan.

The actor, best known for playing the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit wizard Gandalf and the X-Men supervillain Magneto, is to be given a star in the town's Believe Square.

The 75-year-old lived in Wigan in the 1940s and has said he was inspired to act by watching market traders there.

He said he was looking forward to returning to accept the honour in June as Wigan "holds many special memories".

The actor, who was born in Burnley in 1939, moved to a semi-detached house near Mesnes Park with his family at the age of three and stayed there until he was 11.

McKellen has spoken previously of his love of watching brass bands play in the park, the performances of the Frank Fortescue Players at the town's now-defunct Hippodrome and how traders pedalling their wares in Market Square was one of the things that sparked his interest in acting.

Image copyright Dave Green/Geograph
Image caption The actor grew up near Mesnes Park and would go there to watch brass bands play

Sir Ian gone on to become one of Britain's best loved actors, combining his film performances with Shakespearean roles on stage and even a cameo appearance on Coronation Street.

"It will be fascinating to see how the town has developed since 1951, when our family moved to Bolton," he said. "If only the Hippodrome was still there."

Wigan Council leader Lord Peter Smith said Sir Ian was "rightly one of this town's most loved sons", adding there were "few better ambassadors".

Believe Square was unveiled in 2013 to celebrate the sporting achievements of the town's rugby league and football clubs.

Other personalities honoured include writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie, athlete Jenny Meadows, football manager Roberto Martinez and pioneering heart surgeon Dr Nayyar Naqvi.

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