Having spent 3 seasons in regional repertory theatre, my self-imposed apprenticeship paid off. I was growing in confidence professionally and had been noticed by the national press during the Nottingham inaugural season. Then the indispensible bit of luck struck. Michael Codron needed a young actor (and I daresay a cheap one) for his latest production in London, a new play, 'A Scent of Flowers' by James Saunders. I was recommended and, without an audition, was hired for my West End debut.
London theatre is a small world and without a break other work followed, beginning with Laurence Olivier's new National Theatre Company at the Old Vic Theatre and followed by some showy parts in plays old and new. Four years after Nottingham, my name had been in lights on Shaftesbury Avenue and I had made an inglorious Broadway debut. — Ian McKellen, October 1999