Audience member describes how Sir Ian McKellen ‘flew head first’ into her

An audience member has described the moment Sir Ian McKellen “flew head first” into her after a fall from a West End stage on Monday.

The veteran stage and screen actor, 85, was portraying John Falstaff in a production of Player Kings at the Noel Coward Theatre when he lost his footing in a fight scene and fell from the stage.

A member of the audience sat on the front row called Johanna, told the BBC of the moment Sir Ian fell on her.

The 30-year-old, from Leatherhead, Surrey, told the BBC: “Getting crushed by Gandalf the Grey, that’s something you don’t expect.”

She said the actor seemed to “trip on this bit of prop” that was on the stage, before falling on her with his head hitting her knee “quite hard”.

She said: “As he tripped on that he built up momentum and flew head first into me in the audience.”

Johanna described Sir Ian screaming for help and staff rushing to help him.

Johanna said staff at the theatre “seemed unsure” of the health and safety protocol and did not direct any of the paramedics to assess her.

She said she was taken to hospital with soft tissue injuries after the incident.

It was announced on Thursday that Sir Ian would not be performing again in London while he has physiotherapy and recuperates.

A general view of the Noel Coward theatre in London.
A general view of the Noel Coward theatre in London (Aaron Chown/PA)

The final London dates of Player Kings will see Sir Ian’s understudy, David Semark, take on the role of Falstaff.

A spokesperson for the Noel Coward Theatre told the BBC: “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.”