Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to a giant of an old actor with a matching 'joie de vivre' called Brian Blessed

Boisterous Brian, known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television, a giant of a man with an eloquent wit and booming, operatic voice, is 77 years old today.

I remember seeing him, in the early 1960s, when I was a teenager and he played Police Constable 'Fancy Smith' in the black and white tv police series, 'Z Cars'. I was 29 years old when I enjoyed watching him as the Roman Emperor, Augustus, in the series, 'I Claudius' and this summer I heard his voice giving the commentary on the open top bus tour of the historic Rochester and Chatham in Kent.

What you possibly didn't know about Brian, that he :

* was born, before the Second World War and grew up in the mining village of Goldthorpe in South Yorkshire where his father was a miner and went to Bolton on Dearne Secondary Modern School where he displayed a talent for acting in school productions and also had a penchant for boxing, but was forced to leave at the age of 14 when his father suffered an accident at work and he had to support the family,

* worked in a number of jobs, ranging from an undertaker to a plasterer's assistant before doing his National Service as a parachutist in the Royal Air Force and then started drama training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School where a contemporary was Patrick Stewart.
* after 'Z Cars',
 appeared on stage in a production of 'Incident at Vichy' at the Phoenix Theatre followed by minor roles in cult tv series, 'The Avengers' and 'Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)' in the late '60's.

* after Claudius,
hosted a docu-drama on the life of Johann Sebastian Bach, 'The Joy of Bach' in 1978, in which he played Bach in person in a number of scenes and then Basileos in 'The Aphrodite Inheritance' in 1979.

* in 1980 played Prince Vultan in the film 'Flash Gordon', remembered for the
exclamations "Gordon's alive!" and "DIVE!.

* starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, 'Cats' as both Old Deuteronomy and Bustopher Jones in the the original 1981 London West End theatre production.

* on tv played the mad, comic figure of Richard IV in the first series of 'The Black Adder' in 1983
and Spiro in the BBC adaptation of 'My Family and Other Animals' in 1987.

* played General Yevlenko in the mini-series, 'War and Remembrance' in 1988 and Lord Loxley, the father of Robin Hood, in the film 'Robin Hood : Prince of Thieves' in 1991 at the age of 55.

*  attempted to climb to the summit of Mount Everest three times, attaining heights of 8,600 metres in 1993 and 7,700 in 1996 at the age of 60 and has climbed Mount Aconcagua in Argentina and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and is the oldest man to trek to the North Pole on foot and has undertaken an expedition into the jungles of Venezuala during which he survived a plane crash.

* has appeared in a number of Shakespearean roles on stage and screen, including four of the five Shakespeare films directed by Kenneth Branagh.

*  since 2008, has presented the English-language dub of the Japanese TV game show 'Unbeatable Banzuke' under the pseudonym 'Banzuke Brian'.

* has said : "I've just been blessed with a colossal love of life and love of people. I give in to it and let it take me over. I sleep like a log and I can't wait to get up in the morning - whatever the weather. I feel this lifeforce all the time and it even catches me out at times and I find myself laughing at myself."

Britain says :
"Carry on getting up and laughing Brian. The country needs you an its old men need you as a role model."

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