Brian Blessed is a force of nature, with his signature beard, booming voice and wild eyes, this Yorkshire lad knows how to live and has packed a ridiculous amount of experiences into his 82 years. He’s survived a plane crash in the Venezuelan jungle, delivered a baby while out jogging, given art lessons to Pablo Picasso, saved a man’s life, and discussed sex with the Dalai Lama…I could go on, and on, and on…
“You’ve got 15 seconds to have a pee otherwise your cock will fall off”
Ok then, I will. He’s also an accomplished actor – known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television – as well as a writer, presenter and explorer. This giant of a man with an eloquent wit and a booming, operatic voice is on his way to The Muni in Colne with his one man show An Evening with Brian Blessed – an experience that nobody should miss!
Brian will talk about his career on stage and screen including anecdotes from Flash Gordon, Black Adder, I Claudius and Z Cars and his many appearances in Shakespearean Productions.
When I catch up with Brian, I’m frozen and bowlegged… it’s downright ‘parky’…
“Cold!” he bellows, “nonsense,” he yells. “Cold is when you’ve got five inches of ice on your face, and you can’t get a Mars Bar into your mouth, and you’ve got 15 seconds to have a pee otherwise your cock will fall off!”
It’s at that point I spit out my tea splattering my new top in the process, it’s too early to talk about penises…
Regarding his nether regions, he’s referring to the three times he has scaled Mount Everest, and being the oldest man to ever make it to the North Pole.
Despite his plethora of life experiences I managed to discover the one thing he hasn’t done, he’s never climbed Pendle Hill or been to Colne…this lad hasn’t lived!
“I’m looking forward to it. We’re going to have a marvellous time. I enjoy performing my one man show. I have a basic format but a lot depends on how the audience are. A few months ago a man came on the stage and said, ‘I’ve only got days to live’, and he was crying his eyes out. I hugged him. He was covered in great cancerous lumps, and I said, ‘bloody hell, you ain’t half cheering this audience up!’ He roared with laughter and said, ‘oh god Brian, that’s good, I can die bloody laughing. ‘It was farcical.
“I try to give love and light. I want to change every cell in the audiences’ body and they change me too. I talk about expeditions, my childhood, the war years, and about all the different people I’ve met. I do bits including Grampy Rabbit from Peppa Pig and of course everybody wants me to say ‘Gordon’s Alive!’”
The phrase ‘Gordon’s Alive’ has become his catchphrase since he appeared in the 1980s film Flash Gordon. Who can forget Brian’s imposing character Prince Vultan, with his glorious wings and sturdy thighs?
“When I was seven I’d run down the railway embankments to catch a glimpse of The Flying Scotsman, jumping over hedges and walls, I’d pretend I was Vultan,” laughs Brian, “I never dreamt that one day I’d actually play the part.
“It’s a marvellous film, some people have said it’s a bit camp, but it’s not camp. It’s got great style, wonderful lighting in it, marvellous actors and fabulous music from Queen.
“A while ago when Cameron was Prime Minister, I was at Number 10 with Bonnington and Ranulph Fiennes for a conference to save animals, elephants and tigers etc.
I got there early and fell asleep outside the conference room. I was woken up by Cameron, saying ‘do come inside.’ I went in the cabinet room and stood on a chair, ‘please say it,’ said Cameron, and I yelled, ‘Gordon’s Alive’ and he said, ‘that will wake the buggers up!’”
But despite seeing the entire world, it’s a slice of Yorkshire that has his heart.
“I always feel that Haworth and Keighley and around there, is the centre of the earth. I’ve been all over the world as you know, but in and around Haworth and Keighley is my favourite part of the world. I’m going to have a ball when I come up. I love the Himalayas and South America is sensational, but my heart is at Top Withens in Haworth.”
A son of a miner from Mexborough, his Yorkshire accent seems to have dissolved, and despite the fact he lives in Surrey, he’s Yorkshire born and bred.
“I’m a complete Yorkshireman in character, we had to learn what you might call King’s Speech at drama school but they said you must never lose your Yorkshire expression and of course I’ve never lost the expression, it’s what makes me who I am.”
They broke the mould when Brian entered the world. He’s a born storyteller, a walking, talking legend whose infectious energy makes you want to beat your chest in a Tarzan-like fashion.
A fully-trained astronaut with a black belt in Judo, and let’s not forget about his altercation with a polar bear… but that’s another story…