Stephen Fry is about to tie the knot, and many news media outlets are obsessing over the age difference between him and his partner.
The English actor, 57, confirmed his plans to wed the writer and stand-up comic Elliott Spencer, 27, on social media Tuesday after the British tabloid The Sun leaked the news.
“Oh. It looks as though a certain cat is out of a certain bag,” Fry wrote on Twitter. “I’m very very happy of course but had hoped for a private wedding. Fat chance!”
Elliott Spencer (left), Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson (right)
The BBC reports that the pair officially applied for a marriage license December 23 and are set to wed at the Breckland Business Centre in the town of Dereham in Norfolk, an English county close to where Fry was raised. No date for the ceremony has been announced yet.
Fry is a television personality, comedian, writer, and actor, who is perhaps most known to American audiences for his roles in The Hobbit and V for Vendetta, and as the lead in the biopic Wilde. He is also a noted activist, who became one of the prominent gay voices decrying the antigay laws in Russia.
Fry, who in the past has spoken openly about his battle with depression, had a 14-year relationship with Daniel Cohen, which ended in 2010.
Coverage of the engagement included criticism of the age difference between the two men. The Sun, which broke the news, titled its article “Comedian Stephen, 57, to Marry Toyboy, 27.” Heatlover, a celebrity news site, used the phrase “toy-boy lover” in its headline.
The Daily Mail began its coverage of the planned nuptials by noting the ages of the men. Its reporters also sought comments from Spencer’s parents, who said they were “over the moon” for their son, and Fry said of the parents, “'I have met them and they are very nice.” The British publication pointed out that Spencer’s father, Robert, is the same age as Fry.
American publications also played up the age difference. Us Weekly referred to Spencer as Fry’s “much younger lover,” and noted that “age is just a number to British comedian Stephen Fry” in its Facebook post.
Comments on this post were overwhelmingly negative, with commenters noting that Fry looked like a “grandfather,” a “pedophile,” a “dirty old man,” and a “pervert.”
Many reactions on Twitter were also critical.
I love Stephen Fry to pieces but is it just me that finds him marrying a 27yr old a bit odd. He is 57! pic.twitter.com/2G7qlL7bkX
— Tom Sykes (@tomesykes) January 6, 2015
Stephen Fry, 57 to marry Elliott Spencer, 27 ... surely that's too big of a age gap? pic.twitter.com/pns6wB75VO
— TVXTRA (@TvXtra) January 6, 2015
— Gay Star News (@gaystarnews) January 6, 2015
But Fry has received a deluge of congratulations from fans and others on social media, which he noted in a follow-up tweet.
“Thank you all SO much for your kind congratulations. Deeply touched xxx,” he said.