Sir Ian McKellen (born 25 May 1939) provided the voice of the Great Intelligence in the Doctor Who television story The Snowmen. He was credited as "Voice of the Snowmen" in Radio Times to conceal this plot surprise.
In 2013, he appeared as himself (though dressed as Gandalf) in the 50th anniversary story The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot alongside Peter Jackson, director of The Hobbit trilogy, in which he stars alongside Sylvester McCoy.
McKellen's first offered Doctor Who role was for Dimensions in Time as the Rani's assistant. The character's name, Cyrian, was a play on "Sir Ian." Even after McKellen passed on the role, the pun stayed in place. (DWM 324) He was later considered for the role of the Eighth Doctor.
In the sitcom Vicious, he plays an actor whose Doctor Who character was voted "the 10th most popular villain of all time."
He is also a major advocate for LGBT rights. He is a co-founder of Stonewall, and a patron of LGBT History Month and Pride London.
He has now been given an honourary doctorate from the University of Ulster.