Lord Of The Rings star Sir Ian McKellen is to receive an honorary degree from the University of Ulster.

Sir Ian, whose depiction of Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy thrilled audiences, will be made a doctor of letters for services to acting.

The 74-year-old will reprise the role in the forthcoming Hobbit prequel, which also stars University of Ulster chancellor and fellow actor James Nesbitt as Bofur the dwarf.

gandalf

Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, will receive an honorary degree from Ulster University

The world premiere takes place in New Zealand this week before it opens in the UK on December 12.

Sir Ian will deliver the chancellor's annual lecture at the university's Magee campus in Londonderry in February, following speakers including Ireland's Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

University pro-vice chancellor Professor Deidre Heenan said: "The university is delighted to recognise an actor of Sir Ian's standing with an honorary doctorate and that he has also agreed to deliver next year's Chancellor's lecture."

Sir Ian's work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction and he has many television, film and stage appearances to his credit.

He is possibly best known for roles including Gandalf and his part in X Men. He played Richard III for the National Theatre and made a surprise appearance as a con artist in ITV's Coronation Street.

Prof Heenan added: "It is also wonderful for Derry-Londonderry as the 2013 City of Culture that this event is also coming for the first time to Magee and it will no doubt be a highlight for the city and for the university."

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