The Frontier Theatre group, which launches in London on Thursday night (18Jun15), was created to provide opportunities for ageing actors who struggle to find stage roles.

Dench and MCKellen are patrons of the company, while other supporters include veteran thespian Vanessa Redgrave, director Mike Leigh and actress Juliet Stevenson. The famous patrons may help with workshops, but are unlikely to tread the boards with the group, according to founder James Roose-Evans.

He tells Britain's The Independent newspaper, "Otherwise we're falling back into the star system... People like Judi and Ian are hardly short of work."