Sir Ian McKellen has spoken about being part of the first gay kiss to air on UK TV and the wide-ranging effects it had on those watching it who thanked him for years afterwards.
The 82-year-old actor who has starred in The Lord of the Rings and X-Men features in BBC Two's Amol Rajan Interviews Ian McKellen on Thursday, where he talks about the landmark moment in British TV.
McKellen played the title role in a 1970 theatre production of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II, where he kissed James Laurenson as Piers Gaveston and which aired on the BBC.
He tells Rajan: "We had a passionate kiss, James Laurenson and I, for which I'm always grateful, and it was broadcast by the BBC.
"The BBC wasn't out to shock people or educate people, it was just doing a play that had a big success at the Edinburgh Festival and two seasons in London."
He continues: "I think it's the first play ever with a gay hero. Nevertheless, there it was and I don't remember anyone complaining.
"And of course, since, I've heard from people I shall never meet saying I'm so grateful to you for that kiss which I was watching in Indiana with my parents and we had a good conversation about it afterwards and I'm now a happily married gay man... So it was wonderful."
McKellen adds: "I didn't do that play because I was on a mission to tell people about homosexuality and certainly not my own, I was closeted, that's the word, I wasn't honest about my sexuality."
The actor also talks about losing his parents - his mother when he was just 12, and his father who died a few weeks after watching him in his first West End show.
McKellen says of his father: "I didn't talk to him about being gay."
Asked whether he wishes he had, he says: "Of course. The idea that he couldn't have coped with the fact that his son was gay is inconceivable to me. There would have been no moral judgment."
He also shares that his mother was keen for him to become an actor even as a child and that it is something that has kept him going throughout his career.
"My mother told her sister before she died - too young - that if Ian became an actor she'd be happy because actors brought such joy to people's lives," he says.
"And I've held onto that."
Amol Rajan Interviews Ian McKellen airs on Thursday, March 3, at 9pm on BBC Two.
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