FILM and theatre legend Sir Ian McKellen has helped to raise £8,000 for Frinton Summer Theatre as part of his 80th birthday tour.

The thespian, who is a stalwart of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, included the McGrigor Hall as part of his 80-date nationwide tour to mark the milestone year.

Sir Ian, who has achieved worldwide fame for his role as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, appeared at Frinton Summer Theatre on Tuesday night.

The show, called Ian McKellen on Stage: Tolkien, Shakespeare and You, included renditions of Shakespeare, Gandalf and even his Widow Twankey, as well as anecdotes from his career and life.

Speaking to the Gazette following the show, Sir Ian said: “It was a fantastic audience. I was so happy to be here.

“I was enjoying myself so much that I even forgot to put the theatre’s sticker on my box with the audience here at the end of the show - which I’m doing at every theatre I visit.

“I was really pleased to make Frinton part of my 80th birthday tour.

“Theatres like this one are the bedrock of acting in our country and I want to do what little I can to help it continue.”

The show is a huge boost for the repertory theatre as the acting great has donated his profits from the show to the venue, as he will be doing at all 80 dates.

Clive Brill, producer and artistic director of Frinton Summer Theatre, said: “I’m thrilled that he came to Frinton.

“We worked together a bit on the radio, but I wasn’t sure he would say yes when I asked him to include Frinton on the tour.

“He is one of the best actors in the world and to have him here was a real privilege.

“We don’t have any kind of funding, so for him to raise almost £8,000 in one night for us is unheard of.

“What he has done for us is amazing.

“He’s put a little bit of money in the bank before the summer season has even started.”

Sir Ian, who celebrates his 80th birthday on May 25, is also set to appear at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre tonight.