The Lord of the Rings actor turned 76 last month (May15) and admits he is acutely aware of his mortality because he has seen many friends pass away in recent years.

He has decided to put preparations in place for his death by drawing up a running order for his memorial service, which he hopes will take place in a large theatre, and the schedule concludes with his message to mourners: "I'm sorry to be missing this show!"

MCKellen tells British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, "The thing they never tell you - perhaps because it's so blazingly obvious - is that when you get to 76 you know you're old, you know you're mortal because your friends die. It's obvious. They die every week... So I think we'd better have a dress rehearsal before I actually (die)... If it happens now I'll be, 'Oh b**ger!' I had a friend and I held his hand when we said goodbye. He said: 'I don't want to miss anything.' And that's what I feel."