BURNLEY-BORN actor Sir Ian McKellen has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Ulster.

On accepting the title, Sir Ian, legendary star of blockbusters such as Lord Of The Rings and X-Men, revealed he could trace his family tree back to the County Antrim town of Ballymena.

He delivered a lecture at the invitation of the university’s chancellor, The Hobbit co-star James Nesbitt.

The 73-year-old discussed his campaign work for gay rights with an audience the university’s Magee campus, in Londonderry.