Actor Confirmed for University of Ulster

Sir Ian McKellen set to deliver the annual Chancellor's Lecture at the Magee Campus in Derry~Londonderry on February 3, 2013

Oscar-nominated actor and gay rights activist Sir Ian McKellen, CBE, is to deliver the annual Chancellor's Lecture in 2012 at the University of Ulster, which will be held in the Magee campus in Derry~Londonderry for the first time.

The renowned stage and screen actor will also receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the university for his services to acting at the event on February 3, which coincides with Derry~Londonderry's year as City of Culture.

The award will be conferred at a VIP ceremony on the campus by the university's chancellor, Dr James Nesbitt, who co-stars with McKellen in Peter Jackson's forthcoming three-part movie adaptation of the JRR Tolkien adventure novel, The Hobbit, the first instalment of which opens in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on December 13, 2012.

McKellen will be the sixth distinguished speaker to deliver the annual Chancellor’s Lecture, following in the footsteps of the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who delivered the lecture at the UU's Belfast campus in April 2012.

McKellen's work has spanned genres, from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction, and he has many television, film and stage awards to his name, including several Laurence Olivier and Tony awards for performances in the lead role of many iconic Shakespeare plays.

Best known outside the theatre for roles such as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the villainous Magneto in the X-Men franchise, McKellen is also known as an actor with a sense of humour, having made a surprise appearance as a con artist in ITV’s soap opera Coronation Street.

The Magee campus is home to the UU's School of Creative Arts, offering degree programmes in drama, dance, music, design and creative technologies. UU Pro Vice Chancellor and Magee Provost, Professor Deirdre Heenan, said the campus was honoured to host next year's Chancellor's Lecture. 

'The University is delighted to recognise an actor of Sir Ian's standing with an honorary doctorate. It is also wonderful for Derry~Londonderry as the 2013 City of Culture that this event is coming for the first time to Magee, and it will no doubt be a highlight for the city and for the University.'