From When The Diary’s Hobbiton correspondent, Steve Meacham, spoke to Sir Ian McKellen, he made sure to ask him about – what else? – the possibility of his reprising Gandalf in a film adaptation of The Hobbit. ”I’m waiting to hear when the Hobbit is going to be made,” McKellen said. ”We don’t know who is going to direct it. Peter Jackson is currently the producer and he’s currently casting it. I’ve just been to Wellington where I met a lot of people who have been working on it for a year now. The sets are being built. The costumes are being designed. The creatures are being designed. It is all ready to go.

I think a decision will be made very soon. And if it is to be made, filming will start quite soon. If it goes the other way, I think it will be put on ice.” The screenplay has been written by Jackson, his wife, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens (their collaborator on the Lord of the Rings films) plus Guillermo del Toro, the director who was working on the project but resigned earlier this year. However, for all that, McKellen added: ”I don’t have a contract. But I have read an early version of about two-thirds of the script. And it is very good indeed.” A sweet moment followed. When Meacham was leaving, he said: ”My two sons will never believe I’ve just interviewed Gandalf the Grey.” To which McKellen said: ”How old are they? Hold on a minute”. He then drew pictures of Gandalf (left) for each of them. What a nice wizard.