He is one of Britain’s biggest and best-known stars – and this week saw booming Brian Blessed celebrate his 79th birthday.
The Mexborough-born acting legend 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, Brian Blessed was born at Montagu Hospital in Mexborough on October 9, 1936.
He 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 Star Trek star 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.
Last year, he collapsed on stage in Guildford during a performance of King Lear.
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.