Ian McKellen had no problem stripping off for the Stratford run of Trevor Nunn’s Royal Shakespeare Company staging of King Lear, but he’s having to be more modest in Singapore where the production, along with the twinned revival of The Seagull, this week launches it s international tour. In the Asian city-state, renowned for its strict laws, minors would be forbidden to see the play if it retained the nude scene. McKellen told the local media he thought the rule was “a little bit silly”, but that he had agreed to cover up in order not to prevent school groups from attending.

"I'd say, on the whole, people who come to the theatre to see Shakespeare expect to have the whole of life revealed to them,” said McKellen. “And if that means a glimpse of an actor's naked body, so be it.” More concerning for the openly gay actor is Singapore’s laws banning homosexual acts. He has urged the government repeal them. The RSC productions continue on tour to Australia, New Zealand and the US, concluding in Los Angeles on 28 October, before transferring to the West End’s New London Theatre from 12 November (See News, 30 May 2007).