SIR Ian McKellen told how special it was to be back on stage in his hometown on his birthday.

The Bolton School old boy grew-up in Barrow Bridge after his father secured a job as the borough engineer with the council ­— and was based in the same building Sir Ian was performing in on Saturday.

To mark the occasion, the actor cut into a specially commissioned birthday cake at the back stage party.

And Sir Ian was also presented with his father's contract in a frame, which town hall chiefs had found in the archives.

READ MORE: Showtime for legendary actor Sir Ian McKellen who celebrated 80th birthday in Bolton

READ MORE: After show party starts with the cutting of the cake

A gift which Cllr David Greenhalgh handed to the actor who was visibly moved by the beautiful sentiment.

Sir Ian broke his rule of not giving interviews during the tour to speak to The Bolton News.

In an exclusive interview about the tour, Sir Ian said: "“It’s very special to be here on the actual birthday and the actual birthday should happen during the show, a very friendly indulgent audience and a lot of people here have come across the world, but the bulk of the audience was of course local."

The idea of the tour was to share his love of theatre and hopefully inspire others to visit their local playhouses.

“I just want people to have their love of theatre renewed – that’s what it is all about," he said.

Modestly, talking about the tour selling out in record time, Sir Ian said: "It is very gratifying, but I am only in one place for one night."

Birthday celebrations started on Friday afternoon at Bolton School when Old Boys from his year were invited to join him for lunch, before speaking to pupils in the Great Hall, including recreating parts of his show for them.

At an evening party Sir Ian was surprised by guests, including Hollywood stars.

Speaking at the after show party, Sir Ian said: "All these people who gathered yesterday at Bolton School and gave me the fright of my life, I did not know any of them were coming, it was the most wonderful day.

"Just to be here in this magnificent building, so many memories and so very very special."

Cllr Greenhalgh said:"It’s just been a fantastic show, the fact that he has not forgotten Bolton, that he has come here to do this special performance on his birthday, it’s such wonderful it’s great to see so many famous faces, it’s a great advert for the town, it’s just brilliant that he is here.

“I thought the performance was just marvellous, to hear the old stuff about Bolton at the beginning him growing up, his connection to the town, it still means a lot to him clearly. It’s just wonderful he has chosen to come back and to share this wonderful experience with us all and with the town.

“It was someone in the town hall who got him into the old Hippodrome and it brought back memories for so many people, I can remember my mum and dad talking about going to the Hippodrome, The Theatre Royale and you look around these space and you just imagine what it would be like for a young lad growing up, the impression it would give on him to choose his career.”

New artistic director at the Octagon, Lotte Wakeham said: "The fact he has chosen to spend his 80th birthday here in this town which he loved so much and I think that is a really special thing for the people of this town for them to come and celebrate with him.

“As someone who has recently moved to Bolton it made me so excited for the possibilities of this town and that story of someone who comes from part of this world, having all of that success and having that early experience of going to the theatre in this town and in around this town and it makes me really excited for the future of the all those young people getting to experience theatre for the first time in this venues like the Albert Halls, at venues like this Octagon and that is such an exciting thing."

On Sunday evening, Sir Ian was at Bolton Pride's Diversity Awards.

James Edgington from Bolton Pride said: "It’s our fifth year as Bolton Pride and he was such a huge inspiration to me to get the whole pride campaign going.”

Philip Britton, head of Bolton School boys' division, said: "It was wonderful to welcome Old Boy Sir Ian McKellen back to school on Friday to give the boys a performance of some of his 80th birthday show on the Great Hall stage where he had done some of his acting as a boy.

"His obvious sense of fun, his acknowledgement of how teachers had indulged and nurtured his passion for acting and the sense of gratefulness for opportunity was brilliant to see.

"An amazing experience for the boys at the end of their exam week!

"In the Q&A we learned he was in Blackburn House when at school (who would have thought he would remember after 60 years) , his favourite subject was geography and be wished he had been better at maths and science. And we started a debate on whether Gandalf or Magneto would win a contest.

"Before the afternoon show Sir Ian had been guest of honour at a birthday lunch in school where 30 or his 80 year old classmates had gathered to wish him well and remember old times. As Sir Ian said 'it is a party for us all'. 

"They even managed a chorus of Happy Birthday. The school had first had the idea of inviting classmates and been delighted by how many were able to travel (as far afield as Scotland and France in two cases). They then saw the afternoon show.

"Later on Friday it was a real privilege that the school Arts Centre, used to catering for dinners and weddings,had been selected as the venue for Sir Ian’s surprise birthday party. The stellar list of guests genuinely surprised him and had a wonderful evening. Some boys from school and some younger Old Boys involved in acting put on a short show of his acting life at school, receiving a standing ovation from the A list acting audience."