YOU SHALL PASS: Gandalf to get honorary doctorate
May the hair on his toes never fall out! All praise to his wine and ale! Sir Ian McKellen is among the honorary graduands this term, reports CHARLIE BELL.
Sir Ian McKellen is to be awarded an honorary degree by the university in a ludicrously solemn graduation ceremony in June.
The actor, much loved for his Shakespeare roles, probably thinks this is much ado about nothing, though as Gandalf he probably thinks it’s his destiny. McKellen, a graduate and Honorary Fellow of St Cats (and the Ring), will join a host of big names to get their Sainsbury’s special deal at the Regent House. McKellen might need to take a few hours away from his serious charity work, LGBT activism and Middle Earth to get his BOGOF – as though one Cambridge degree isn’t enough.
A fair few other stars in the arts and the sciences are also being recognised for their cosmic contibutions, including the Astronomer Royal and former Master of Trinity, Lord Rees. Last year’s honorary graduands included Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel and well-known public economist Prof Daniel Kahneman. An unnamed university source said, ‘You have to be a pretty big name to get one, as moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars’.
Not everyone is thrilled about Gandalf’s elevation. Eleanor Costello, a first year English student was disgusted. “I think it’s a bit patronising to everyone who did actually get a doctorate. He’s a talented man but acting in films is much more fun and glamorous than sitting in the UL all day”.
The Steward of the Tolkien Society, James Baillie, sees a doctorate as a fitting recognition of McKellen’s achievements, “Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is something I and many other Tolkien fans regard as one of the best elements of the Peter Jackson films, bringing across all the wisdom and mystery that Tolkien created in the Lord of the Rings.
“He’s clearly hugely deserving of this, not just for his acting but for his ability to interpret one of the greatest pieces of fantasy literature to perfection.”
To leave on a potent, ominous note, Dan Ward, a third year anthropologist, was delighted. “Where there’s life there’s hope. The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them. All’s well that ends better.”