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Nesbitt does the honours as fellow actor McKellen gets Ulster degree

ACTOR Ian McKellen has received an honorary degree from the University of Ulster at Magee in Derry.

The degree was conferred on him by fellow actor James Nesbitt, who is the chancellor of the university.

McKellen (73) is recognised as one of the greatest living actors.

Twice nominated for an Oscar, he has won two Golden Globes, a Tony Award, as well as numerous Laurence Olivier awards in his long and varied career.

However, he is probably best known for playing Gandalf in the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

After he received his Doctor of Letters degree in Magee's Great Hall, he told the audience of what life was like in post-war Lancashire for a gay youth.

"I could talk to no one about my secret," he recalled.

"One of the reasons I became an actor was because I'd heard that you could meet gay people in the professional theatre, where the only judgment that mattered was whether you were acting well and took the job seriously."

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