BT has engaged the services of actor Sir Ian McKellen (pictured), best known for his roles as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit franchises, as well as Magneto in the X-Men films, to become the voice of the Speaking Clock service for Comic Relief 2015.
McKellen’s distinctive tones will be heard by callers to the Speaking Clock service from Monday 2 February through to Friday 13 March – this year’s Red Nose Day.
During this time, BT will donate 10p from each call made to the Speaking Clock to the Red Nose Day appeal, which was founded 30 years ago in response to the Ethiopian famine, and today raises vital funding for non-governmental organisation projects all over the world.
McKellen described Red Nose Day as a "national institution" and said he is delighted to be making his debut with Comic Relief.
He added: “As for the Speaking Clock, I hope everyone will give me a call, if they have the time, so to speak.”
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A six-time Olivier Award winner and double Oscar nominee, Ian McKellen joined the National Theatre Company at the Old Vic in 1965, but came to wider prominence in the 1970s with roles in Macbeth and Othello.
BT has been a major partner of Comic Relief since its launch in 1985. It currently provides the technology, callcentres, network management and a number of volunteers to man the phones – often shown live on television at the BT Tower in London – to help the charity manage millions of pounds worth of donations made during its Friday-night telethon.
Comic Relief has itself been a serial innovator when it comes to the IT needed to support its bi-annual event. Four years ago it deployed a temporary cloud to manage the demands of the event using technology from Cisco, HP, Oracle and VMware among others.
At its peak in 2011, its network processed over 200 transactions a second, which at the time was more than Amazon’s Christmas sales traffic.