GALLERY: Brian Blessed at 80 - a life in pictures
A big booming happy birthday to Brian Blessed who reaches 80 today!
He is one of Britain’s biggest and best known stars - and the Mexborough-born acting legend is marking another momentous milestone today.
Brian has appeared in a host of movies and hit TV shows and is known around the globe for his larger than life persona - a far cry from his days growing up in South Yorkshire.
The son of William Blessed, a miner at Hickleton Main and Hilda Wall, Blessed was born at Montagu Hospital in Mexborough on October 9, 1936 and attended Bolton on Dearne Secondary Modern School, but was forced to leave at the age of 15 after his father suffered an industrial accident.
He then spent several years working in a number of jobs, ranging from an undertaker to a plasterer’s assistant.
He started drama training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, where his contemporaries included Patrick Stewart, and then found fame as PC “Fancy” Smith in the BBC TV series Z-Cars, between 1962 and 1965.
More TV roles followed in The Avengers, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Doctor Who while on stage he starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats,
One of his best remembered roles was as Prince Vultan in the 1980 film Flash Gordon for which he is frequently remembered for the exclamation “Gordon’s alive!”
He also appeared as Richard IV in the first series of Blackadder while to younger viewers he is known as the voice of Grampy Rabbit in Peppa Pig.
He has also attempted to climb Mount Everest three times but without ever reaching the summit and has also trekked to the North Pole on foot, as well as a number of other expeditions away from the silver screen.
A few years ago he collapsed on stage in Guildford during a performance of King Lear - but following the showbiz adage that the show must go on, he later returned to finish his performance - but had to pull out of the rest of the run on doctor’s orders after it was discovered he had heart problems.