'Sir Ian McKellen fell off stage and landed on me'

A woman sits with her leg elevated and an ice pack on it, surrounded by three people inside a theatre foyer.
Johanna was supported by a doctor and some staff in the theatre foyer [Johanna]

A woman has described the moment Sir Ian McKellen fell on her as the actor tumbled off the stage during a London theatre performance.

Johanna, from Leatherhead in Surrey, was in the audience when Sir Ian, 85, fell during a fight scene in a performance of the Player Kings at the Noël Coward Theatre on Monday.

She said she felt the theatre staff did not adequately respond to the injuries and shock she suffered.

A spokesperson for the Noël Coward Theatre apologised that the incident occurred and said it offered "support and assistance from the moment it happened and will continue to do so". The BBC has also contacted Sir Ian's agent for comment.

Johanna sitting in a hospital padded chair crying
Johanna said she was left injured and in shock by the fall [Johanna]

"Getting crushed by Gandalf the Grey, that's something you don't expect," said Johanna, who was taken to hospital with soft tissue injuries after the actor's fall.

The 30-year-old, who did not give her surname, had got front row tickets to see the classic play with her brother and friend.

She said it had been a "fantastic production" and the three of them had been enjoying it, until the scene in which Sir Ian fell.

Johanna said the Olivier Award winning actor appeared to "trip on this bit of prop" that was on the stage.

"As he tripped on that he built up momentum and flew head first into me in the audience," she said.

Johanna said she had her legs crossed and Sir Ian's head hit her knee "quite hard".

She said the actor screamed out for help and she "went into shock at the whole thing".

Sir Ian McKellen and cast at the curtain call during the press night performance on 11 April, 2024
The actor says he is having "physiotherapy, light exercise and a lot of essential rest at home" following the fall [Getty Images]

She said staff rushed to help Sir Ian and the theatre was evacuated.

Meanwhile, she was helped to the foyer by two women who could see she was "in distress".

Once in the foyer, a woman, who turned out to be a doctor, saw Johanna's condition and provided care.

Johanna said initially the theatre staff "seemed unsure" of the health and safety protocol and did not immediately provide necessary assistance.

She said although they did eventually provide help, they did not direct any of the paramedics who had attended to treat Sir Ian to assess her injuries.

An ambulance, an ambulance and a taxi outside the Noel Coward Theatre where Sir Ian McKellen fell
Sir Ian McKellen fell off the stage at the Noël Coward Theatre on Monday evening [BBC]

"I felt a bit like I wasn't really being checked in on," Johanna said.

She said if it was not for the doctor who helped her, she "might not have necessarily got the same amount of care" as she did.

"I want to say thank you to her," said Johanna. "She looked after me the whole time in the foyer."

Johanna said the theatre staff told her to book her own taxi, despite her being in shock and in tears, and they would reimburse her.

She travelled home to Leatherhead with her brother and friend before her mum, Angela, joined her in the cab and they went to Epsom Hospital.

"She was in a lot of pain and just in pieces, just weeping," Angela said.

She added her daughter was getting pains in her neck, shoulders and upper back and was "visibly shocked".

Johanna said she spent all night in the hospital's emergency department, where she was given pain relief and had scans to rule out any fractures.

She said she was unaware of Sir Ian's condition at that point and was "so worried that something really bad had happened".

"When it came up on the news saying that he's being looked after and that he seems to be OK, it made me feel a little bit better and I felt a bit more relieved," she said.

'Rare accident'

Johanna said it was an "unforgettable encounter".

"But not necessarily the encounter I would ever want to have with Sir Ian," she added.

Johanna said she hoped to meet Sir Ian in better circumstances one day.

Sir Ian has said he is having "physiotherapy, light exercise and a lot of essential rest at home" following the fall.

He will not be returning to his starring role for the final three West End performances but is expected to make a full recovery and perform at the play's Bristol dates early next month.

A spokesperson for the Noël Coward Theatre said: "As the theatre hosting the production, we are very sorry that this rare accident occurred during a performance of Player Kings.

"We maintain the highest standards of safety and are conducting a thorough investigation with the producers.

"We have been in regular contact with those involved to offer support and assistance from the moment it happened and will continue to do so.

"We wish Johanna and Sir Ian full and speedy recoveries."

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