The son of a South Yorkshire coal miner, Brian Blessed was born in 1936 in Mexborough and grew up in the mining village of Goldthorpe. He trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before beginning a distinguished and varied career, which has encompassed all media. Brian is now one of this country’s best known and most highly respected actors.
Brian created the role of ‘Old Deuteronomy’ in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s highly successful musical, CATS, for which he received a SWET nomination. He also starred as ‘John Freeman’ in the West End musical METROPOLIS. Whilst a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company he played ‘Claudius’ in HAMLET, ‘Exeter’ in HENRY V and ‘Hastings’ in RICHARD III. At the Royal National Theatre he created ‘Maxim Gorky’ in Robert Bolt’s STATE OF REVOLUTION and played the role of ‘Sir Tunbelly Clumsey’ in THE RELAPSE, directed by Trevor Nunn. He also played ‘Henry II’ in THE LION IN WINTER at Basingstoke and he created the role of ‘Baron Bomburst’ in the original cast of the hugely successful musical, CHITTY, BANG, BANG at the London Palladium.
Countless television roles include; ‘Augustus Caesar’ in I CLAUDIUS for which he received the New York Critics Award; ‘PC Fancy Smith’ in Z CARS; ‘Porthos’ in THE THREE MUSKETEERS; ‘Pepone’ in THE LITTLE WORLD OF DON CAMILLO; ‘Spiro’ in MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS; the title role in THE JOY OF BACH, ‘Richard IV’ in BLACK ADDER; and the larger than life ‘Squire Western’ in the BBC’s classic drama series TOM JONES. More recently the ‘Laughing Cavalier’ in ADAM’S FAMILY TREE (YTV), ‘Mr Scottley’ in THE GREATEST STORE IN THE WORLD, ‘Sir Morris’ in the award winning animated series THE BIG KNIGHTS (BBC) and ’Max’ in WINTER SOLSTICE ( BBC).
On Film, Brian played ‘Talthybius’ in TROJAN WOMEN in which he was thrilled to co-star with Katherine Hepburn, Irene Papas and Vanessa Redgrave. He played ‘Vultan’ in the ever popular FLASH GORDON; ‘Pedro’ in MAN OF LA MANCHA; ‘Long John Silver’ in RETURN TO TREASURE ISLAND; ‘General Zukov’ in WAR AND REMEMBRANCE and ‘Lord Locksley’ in ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES with Kevin Costner. In Kenneth Branagh’s HENRY V he played ‘Exeter’, in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING he played ‘Antonio’ and in hamlet he played ‘Hamlet’s Father and the Ghost’. He played ‘Boss Nass’ in George Lucas’ STAR WARS, THE PHANTOM MENACE, ‘Pendragon’ in MERLIN - THE LEGEND BEGINS, ‘Clayton’ in Walt Disney’s
TARZAN and ‘Leonidas’ in Oliver Stones’ ALEXANDER. More recently he played ‘Cardinal Piccolomini’ in THE CONCLAVE, ‘Lord Francisco del Ruiz’ in DAY OF WRATH, ‘Duke Frederick/Duke Senior’ in Kenneth Branagh’s version of AS YOU LIKE IT and the role of ‘Trevor Pilkington’ in BACK IN BUSINESS.
Brian has worked with some of this country’s great orchestras. At the Royal Festival Hall he appeared with The London Symphony Orchestra and massed choirs performing Arthur Bliss’ MORNING HEROES. He followed this with the inevitable PETER AND THE WOLF with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham, Prokofiev’s IVAN THE TERRIBLE with the Royal National Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow and he has recorded A YOUNG PERSONS GUIDE TO THE ORCHESTRA. He ‘Narrated’ KING OLAF with The Danesborough Chorus and TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED/ LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD with The BBC Concert Orchestra.
Brian has written five books; THE TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN, THE DYNAMITE KID, NOTHING’S IMPOSSIBLE, BLESSED EVEREST, an inspiring abbreviated history of Everest, which includes many magnificent photographs and QUEST to the lost world. Brian loves writing and would write a great deal more if he could find the time!
Since the late sixties Brian has had a great love of mountaineering and a great desire to stand on ‘the top of the world’. He has been on three expeditions to Mount Everest. The first to make the film GALAHAD OF EVEREST, a tribute to George Leigh Mallory. In 1993 he returned to Everest, this time to climb the Southern side where he reached a height of 28,000 feet – the highest a man of his age has achieved without oxygen. He returned to the Northern side in 1996 when the climb was filmed by a Channel 4 Television team as part of the ENCOUNTERS series. Brian has also completed a trek to the North Pole, an expedition to The Lost World in Venezuela, a climb to the summit of Mount Ararat in Turkey at 17,000 feet and a climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia.
Most recently Brian played “The Narrator” in a UK Tour of the Prokofiev’s PETER & THE WOLF, made a Guest Appearance as ‘The Host’ on HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU, filmed ‘THE UNDERDOG SHOW for Mentorn and he fronted the 35 episodes of UNBEATABLE BANUKE for Challenge TV. He also played ‘Captain Goitre’ IN THE CGI SKETCH SHOW for the BBC, and ‘Sir David Fawcett’ in THE ROYAL for ITV.
Brian lives in Surrey with his wife, the actress Hildegard Neil. They share their home with numerous dogs, ponies, cats, ducks and fish !! They have one daughter, Rosalind, who is also an actress.