British actress Julie Andrews filmed the opening sequence to the movie The Sound of Music 51 years ago this week. The Hong Kong run of a stage version ended two weeks ago. Before her vocal range was significantly reduced by throat surgery in 1997, Andrews, had performed in a number of musicals, and won the best actress Academy Award for her performance in Mary Poppins, a 1964 film produced by Walt Disney …

During the first and second world wars, the American cartoonist was, at various times, a Red Cross ambulance driver, a propaganda filmmaker for the United States government and a producer of anti- Hitler shorts. Between 1928 and 1947, the Chicago-born entrepreneur was also the voice of Mickey Mouse, who was originally named Mortimer, until Disney’s wife, Lillian, convinced him Mickey would be a more marketable name. Disney’s other animated hits include Pinocchio, Dumbo and The Sword in the Stone, which is based on the legend of King Arthur …

The “true king of the Britons” lived – allegedly – in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. In the manuscripts of 9th-century Welsh cleric Nennius, he appears as a general who fought in the Battle of Mount Badon, during which he single-handedly slayed 960 men. However, some scholars believe Arthur was just a fictional folklore hero whose name has become associated with historic events. Whether myth or man, he is famously associated with the knights of the round table, who lived in Camelot; Excalibur, the sword he allegedly drew from a stone; and the prospect of a messianic return. The latter inspired the 1945 novel That Hideous Strength, by C. S. Lewis …

Born in 1898, the novelist twice failed the entrance examination to Oxford University, where he would later teach, on account of poor maths skills. He only gained entrance in 1917 because he had served in the military. Aged four, Clive Staples renamed himself “Jacksie” after his dead dog – a name his family and friends used for most of his life. Lewis is today largely remembered for his Chronicles of Narnia novels, but not everyone was a fan. An Oxford contemporary complained that in the books Lewis had mixed classical myths with folklore and childish talking animals. That curmudgeonly critic was J.R.R. Tolkien …

The author of high-fantasy tomes The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings was most celebrated as a novelist, but his real passion was language: Tolkien spoke English, German and French; had studied Latin; and later in life mastered Finnish and Old Norse. He even created five languages: two Elvish; one for dwarves; a dialect for the evil servants of Mordor; and a separate tongue for the Ents – the giant, talking trees that appear in his novels. The film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy starred Ian McKellen …

The British actor was introduced to the theatre aged three, when his parents took him to see Peter Pan at the Opera House in Manchester. McKellen, who publicly revealed his homosexuality in 1988 on BBC Radio, is mostly vegetarian, and, aged 70, he gave up alcohol. A fan of social media, last year McKellen sent out a message to his 2.1million Twitter followers saying he had just appeared on BBC1 programme The One Show with another legendary actor: Julie Andrews.