The Londoner: Sir Ian McKellen takes up painting on advice of Dame Judi Dench

·3-min read
 (For One Knight Only / Robbie Griffiths)
(For One Knight Only / Robbie Griffiths)

Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that he has taken up painting following encouragement from Dame Judi Dench, as other stars Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Derek Jacobi talked about their lockdowns.

Sir Ian last night treated an online event, hosted by Sir Kenneth Branagh for charity Acting for Others, to his “first self-portrait”, and a painting of a robin. “I use acrylic paint which is very easy because it all dissolves in water,” he said.

“I’m basically copying things at the moment,” he continued. “I’m looking forward to the time quite soon after the vaccine when I can go out and sit across the road at my easel and paint my house from the outside”.

Dame Judi said that she had sent Sir Ian a “first prize” gift to celebrate the hobby. Dame Maggie Smith has “done absolutely nothing constructive” except watch murder mysteries. “It’s been absolutely appalling,” she admitted. Sir Derek said that he had been gardening and reading and walking the dog. “I really haven’t learnt how to cook or knit,” he said.

For One Knight Only made £300,000 to help the acting community, and is still raising money with online auctions.

Sir Elton: Watford kept me down to earth

Sir Elton JohnAlamy Stock Photo
Sir Elton JohnAlamy Stock Photo

SIR Elton John says his time as chairman of Watford football club helped him to stay “grounded”.

“People who go to football, they will tell you the truth and the fans will say, you know, ‘I don’t like your new record’,” he said.

At the Hay literary festival Winter Weekend last night, he added with a smile: “The passion of the crowds and the horrible things they said about me were part and parcel and it was just wonderful.”

Zephaniah: Covid up close looks evil

PA Archive/PA Images
PA Archive/PA Images

Poet Benjamin Zephaniah says although he is usually up for protests, the people saying coronavirus is a “hoax” are “really weird”. Not only has he seen family members suffer, he has seen the virus through a microscope and “you can see its little claws”, Zephaniah told Adam Buxton’s podcast. “If you’d have said to a graphic comic designer, ‘design an evil virus that’s going to take over the world’, this is what he would’ve done.”

Fox finds son may not always rise

Laurence FoxDave Benett
Laurence FoxDave Benett

Laurence Fox yesterday boasted about breaking lockdown by inviting a “large group” for Sunday lunch. “We hugged and ate and talked and put the world to rights.” This morning Fox’s tweet so angered fellow actor Mark Dexter that he revealed: “I was once up against him for a US TV role — to play the son of James Fox’s character.” James Fox is Laurence’s real-life father. It seems Laurence didn’t convince as his son. Dexter adds the kicker: “I got it.”

Asperger’s is a gift, says Numan

Ben Pruchnie/Getty
Ben Pruchnie/Getty

Gary Numan says he thinks of his Asperger’s as “a gift rather than a mental health issue,” adding: “If I were to have my life again, I would choose to have it all over again.” The musician, whose hits included Cars and Are Friends Electric? explained that having autism is like having “a massive snowplough on the front of my face”. He went on: “It pushes things out the way... I’m able to just nudge the plough into that emotion and move it to one side.” Numan, speaking at the Hay Festival last night, conceded “the only downside is that I’m not particularly good at interacting socially”.

SW1A

Parliament TV
Parliament TV

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen admits he is “more than an interested observer of the US elections”, as he adds to the conspiracies around Joe Biden’s win. Writing in The Pavlovic Today, he says: “There does seem to be a large number of irregularities with the results.” He then brands Biden “a lame duck”. Oh dear.

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Richard Holden, a Tory MP in the North-East, is advertising for a grand-sounding “chief of staff”. Holden is, for the moment, just a backbench MP – as he has been since his election in December last year. Given the role involves overseeing his offices, perhaps someone has been watching a little too many political dramas.