(Charles Spencer’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/26.)

In the preface to his entertaining new book about being Ian McKellen’s understudy, the author David Weston asks: “Why should anyone be interested in reading the meanderings of a relatively unknown old actor, when so many memoirs and biographies of the famous go unread?” The answer – and one that Weston is too modest to declare himself – is that Covering McKellen is a hugely enjoyable read that often put me in mind of The Diary of a Nobody. Imagine Mr Pooter serving as an understudy in the RSC’s troubled double bill of King Lear and The Seagull, which toured to four continents in 2007, and you will get some idea of the comic delights on offer.


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