He is the egg-man: why Ian McKellen has restored my will to live

<span>Photograph: Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP</span>
Photograph: Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP

The world is in flames. We are being crippled by rising inflation, unfathomable energy prices and inept leadership, and this winter will be worse. At times like these, it can feel a little like there’s no point going on, as if we’re all just bugs waiting to be crushed by the world’s indifferent machinery. But sometimes the universe hears us, and gives us all exactly what we need to restore our will to live. That’s right, I’m talking about a photograph of Sir Ian McKellen walking out of a big egg.

It thrills me to report that such a photograph now exists, thus instantly nullifying any problems that any of us may have ever been experiencing about anything at all. McKellen, one of the titans of both cinema and theatre, has just walked out of a great big egg. A gold egg, too. And he was wearing a lovely scarf as he did it. Boy, someone up there is really listening to us.

Before we get to why McKellen was pictured walking out of a big egg, perhaps it would be wise to first describe the egg. The egg in question is undoubtedly a luxury egg, perhaps 10ft high and covered in a rich golden sheen. It boasts a clean, modernist white interior that can be accessed via a hatch that – unless I am very much mistaken – operates with the aid of two very sleek pneumatic support rods.

The egg was flanked by two security guards to assist in case it toppled over and rolled wildly through the streets

“But what about the inherently unreliable balance of eggs in general?” you’re asking. McKellen, though undoubtedly a titan of a man, is now 83 years old. Asking him to walk out of a big egg, which by its very nature can only achieve a metastable equilibrium while balanced on its broad end, opens up no end of potential for a shattered hip or worse. Luckily, if you look closely, you will see that the egg has been fused to a large rectangular base with which to keep it upright. Also, Mel Giedroyc from The Great British Bake Off is holding his hand, which has to help. The egg was also flanked by two security guards, who were not only there to fend off overzealous McKellenheads, but to assist in the event of it toppling over and rolling wildly through the streets around Leicester Square.

So, finally, why did McKellen spend much of this morning walking out of a big egg? That’s simple. It’s because he has signed up for panto season this year, performing the title role in a touring production of Mother Goose that opens in Brighton on 3 December. It will not be the first time that McKellen has starred in a panto, having played Widow Twanky in two productions of Aladdin a decade and a half ago. But it will be the first time he has appeared in a panto written by panto veteran Jonathan Harvey, who wrote the 2008 Barbican panto, a panto performed by various Big Brother housemates and also a 2012 TV film called Panto. More importantly, this is also the first time that Sir Ian McKellen has announced his participation in a panto by walking out of a big golden egg in Leicester Square, encouraged by Mel Giedroyc from The Great British Bake Off.

Incidentally, it is also worth pointing out that Giedroyc herself will also be starring in the panto, as a magical goose. Furthermore, the role of Pa will be played by John Bishop, who was actually inside the big egg with McKellen for the announcement, although many publications chose not to show this in their coverage. Let’s hope that, in years to come, fate will rectify this by giving Bishop his own big egg to walk out of alone. Then, finally, he might finally assume the status of McKellen, who is now incontestably something of a giant in the egg world.