An Extended 75-minute film

Internationally acclaimed film star and one of Britain's foremost classical stage actors, IAN MCKELLEN, allows The South Bank Show unprecedented and exclusive access to record a year in his life at work, on the road and at home.

In June 1984 The South Bank Show began documenting a year in McKellen's life whilst he was at the pinnacle of his stage career at the National Theatre. Twenty years later, that life has changed beyond all recognition - the two most significant changes being his rise to international celebrity and his public 'coming out' as a gay man. In June 2003, The South Bank Show began following McKellen around the world once more to record another - very different - year in his life.

Signing autographs at the Los Angeles premiere of The Return of the King

On the beach, Wellington NZ

Visiting the Hobart Shakespeareans
Los Angeles, February 2004

This film begins with Ian backstage on the last night of Dance of Death in the West End. The journey that follows takes us inside his home in London's Docklands; on the set of re-shoots for Lord of the Rings in New Zealand; on a promotional world tour with fellow cast members Liv Tyler and Orlando Bloom; behind the scenes at the BAFTA's and the Oscars; on location in Leeds and Dublin making his new film Asylum opposite Natasha Richardson; and on an emotional journey to visit his elderly stepmother at her home near Morecambe Bay.

Greeting photographers at the Wellington premiere, December 2003

The film that emerges is dynamic, revelatory and honest. McKellen candidly discusses the demands of international celebrity, his thoughts on getting older, his homosexuality and political activism, acting for both the stage and screen, and the reasons why he decided to make not one, but two South Bank Shows.

Says Ian McKellen: "One of the reasons I became a professional actor was because I'd heard that you could meet queers in the British theatre. And it's quite true that you can. Thank Goodness. And I entered then a world that was not normal. I entered then a world in which people could be at ease with their sexuality".

Produced, Directed and Photographed by Matt Cain; Edited and Presented by Melvyn Bragg

Photos by Keith Stern

First Aired on ITV1 in UK
Tuesday 29 June 2004 at 11pm