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Ian McKellen supports new play inspired by The Hobbit pub at Nuffield Southampton Theatres

The play has been commissioned to tell the story of the local pub The Hobbit

Ian McKellen
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

A new play inspired by the legal battle between a Southampton pub and a major Hollywood film company has been commissioned by Nuffield Southampton Theatres.

The play is inspired by the legal battle fought by The Hobbit pub on Bevois Valley Road in Southampton. Ian McKellen marked the announcement as he visited the venue as part of an ongoing UK solo tour.

In 2012 the pub, which takes its name from the iconic book penned by JRR Tolkien, was accused of copyright infringement by a major Hollywood film studio. The campaign to save the pub's name was then supported by McKellen and Stephen Fry, with a Facebook page set up to help the establishment fight the case. The case is still ongoing, with the pub permitted to retain the name but it has to pay an ongoing license fee.

Ian McKellen outside The Hobbit pub
© Nuffield Southampton Theatres

Nuffield Southampton Theatres' artistic director Samuel Hodges said: "With Tolkien's masterpiece interrogating the battle between disadvantaged man and the things the world throws at him, this is life imitating art in both senses of the phrase, and a brilliant premise for a new play. As we have over the last year with The Shadow Factory and SS Mendi, we want to continue to celebrate and share local stories with our audiences and it was very special to have Sir Ian's support on his visit to Southampton."

McKellen starred as Gandalf in both The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies, and was recently nominated for an Olivier Award for his performance in King Lear in the West End.

Full details about the play will be announced in due course.