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Diary: Cumber-who?

Timothy Carlton, full name Timothy Carlton Congdon Cumberbatch, in The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1982
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Oh, to be aged and delightfully carefree. Alternatively: oh, to be Ian McKellen.

The legendary actor recently sat down with a veritable flood of journalists to discuss his newest venture: an iPad app where you can see him and his mate Derek Jacobi speaking Shakespeare lines as you read them.

Tabard, listening in on the last group of journalists to be admitted to see him, was pleasantly surprised that McKellen – harassed as he had been for about three hours – was as yielding and generous with his time as ever.

“I shall be watching with interest to see how many people download it,” he said, genuinely excited and all smiles, before adding as an aside to the reporters: “I wouldn’t know how to download an app.”

“Don’t say that!” laughed a nearby PR, her eyes wide, her smile a mere lid on a scream.

But this faux pas wasn’t even Tabard’s highlight. No, that was an anecdote McKellen told the group of wide-eyed hacks before the interview properly kicked off – about working with Benedict Cumberbatch’s father back in the 1980s.

“I worked with Timothy Carlton, when he was a young man,” he told them.

“And Timothy said to me: ‘My real surname’s Cumberbatch. But I mean… can you imagine trying to have success as an actor with a name like Cumberbatch?’ ”

Send stories to tabard@thestage.co.uk

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