Sir Ian McKellen fell on me – and theatre staff did little to help, woman claims

Sir Ian in costume, with flat cap and braces over a fake paunch
Sir Ian McKellen fell from the stage of the Noel Coward theatre on Monday - Manuel Harlan

A woman was left in tears and complained she was not checked on by staff after Sir Ian McKellen “flew head first” into her when he fell off a West End stage.

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 Noel Coward Theatre on Monday.

The 30-year-old, who did not give her surname, said she “went into shock” after the incident and had to spend the night in hospital after sustaining soft tissue injuries.

Getting crushed by Gandalf the Grey, that’s something you don’t expect,” Johanna told the BBC.

Sir Ian , 85, was also taken to hospital after reportedly suffering a fractured wrist, among other injuries, and later said he was “recovering well”.

Front row seats

Johanna had front row tickets to see the play with her brother and friend and said she was enjoying the “fantastic production” until Sir Ian appeared to trip over a prop.

“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 Olivier Award-winning actor screamed out for help while she “went into shock at the whole thing”.

As staff rushed to help Sir Ian and the theatre was evacuated, Johanna was helped to the foyer by two women who could see she was “in distress”.

She added that theatre staff initially “seemed unsure” of the health and safety protocol and did not direct any of the paramedics to assess her.

‘I wasn’t really checked’

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

“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.”

Theatre staff are said to have told her to book her own taxi, despite her being in shock and in tears, and they would reimburse her.

‘We are very sorry’

A spokesman 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.”

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