IAN McKellen arrives in Dorset next month to perform in two of the county's theatres - and help them both with their fundraising efforts.

The solo shows are part of Ian's 80-date UK tour to celebrate his 80th birthday.

He will be at Lighthouse, Poole on Tuesday, July 2 and at the Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis, on Wednesday, July 3. Both shows are sold out.

The Lord of the Rings star's show in Lyme Regis will be a special fundraiser for the Marine Theatre. All profits will support the youth theatre and help update the Marine’s dressing rooms.

Ian's show in Poole will raise money for an arts programme there.

The first half of Ian's intimate show is a mixture of anecdotes from his career, an extract from The Lord of the Rings and a handful of poems. The second half is focused solely on Shakespeare where Ian, with the help of the audience, lists all 37 plays and Ian revisits speeches from those in which he has performed.

“I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t,” he says. “The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage. In-between there will be anecdotes and acting.

“Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience. Growing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and I’ve always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself, with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Prospect Theatre, the Actors’ Company, as well as with commercial productions. Sean Mathias, the director and I have worked together for stage and screen, many happy times."

Ian will be making his debut in Lyme Regis, but has performed in Poole before.

He said: “I was last onstage in Poole with the RSC’s small scale tour of Twelfth Night and Three Sisters 40 years ago. I’m delighted to be back as I revisit other theatres up and down the UK. All profits will benefit Lighthouse, aptly named Poole’s centre for the arts.”

Ian has asked for all the income from the show to go towards the Bright Sparks programme at Lighthouse that will enable and inspire talented people to develop professionally in a wide range of roles across the arts sector.