Sir Ian McKellen pulls out of tour of Player Kings ahead of Newcastle run

Sir Ian McKellen has withdrawn from the tour of Player Kings which had been due to bring him to Newcastle his month, saying it is "with the greatest reluctance" that he is taking doctors' advice to miss the rest of the play's national tour.

The acting legend is taking time off work in order to fully recover from the fall he had while performing on stage in the West End last month. He said that, two weeks on from the fall, his injuries are improving "day by day" but he needs to "protect my full recovery by not working in the meantime".

He added that he had been "so looking forward" to bringing the Player Kings, in which he plays Falstaff, to cities including Newcastle where the tour will wrap up at the Theatre Royal with a July 24-27 run. His understudy David Semark will now take on the role for the final dates and Sir Ian assured audiences the production will remain as "dazzling as ever".

The news was announced on social media by Player Kings on Monday, with a statement on X. The 85-year-old had received hospital treatment following his fall from the stage which came during a performance of the Player Kings in June and initially he shared hopes that he soon would be back in his role.

But the update on X said: "Following Ian McKellen's injury during the West End run of Player Kings, his doctors' advice is to take time off work in order to fully recover. As such, he will not be returning to play Sir John Falstaff in the national tour."

It added: "Ian continues to recuperate very well but he needs the time to rest and ensure a complete recovery." The statement was followed by Sir Ian's own words.

The news will no doubt disappoint local fans of the star of stage and screen who had been quick to book up following the initial news that the last leg of the tour would be at Newcastle Theatre Royal, which Sir Ian has described in the past as his favourite theatre.

The actor, whose seven-decade career has taken in Shakespearean stage roles with the RSC and film roles including Magneto in the X-Men movies and Galdalf in The Lord of the Rings film franchise, is believed to have first performed at the city theatre in 1969 and in recent years twice appeared there alongside Sir Patrick Stewart, in Waiting For Godot then No Man's Land.

His comic role as Falstaff in The Player Kings, an adaptation by writer-director Robert Icke of Shakespeare's Henry IV bringing together parts one and two of the history drama, was described by the Theatre Royal as 'the hottest ticket this summer'.

It shared Monday's joint statement by the play and Sir Ian on Twitter and among the comments on the post came well-wishers' messages to the actor including the likes of "Sorry to hear(/read) that, good luck with the recovery" and "get well sir".