Brian Blessed Fern Britton Meets...

Brian Blessed

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After 100 yards, turn right. Go around the roundabout. 4th exit.


Which exit? 4th Exeter. At the end of the road, turn left... I must


have interviewed hundreds of people in my time and very often you are


going to their house or a film set or a TV studio and they send you


detailed directions so you don't get lost. But this has to be a


first. Turn left. Turn right. it is rather surreal. How far to


the next exit? 700 yards!. You have reached your destination. Here we


are, outside the house of my guest today whose voice is as distinctive


as his figure, and whose career has spanned uneventful 50 years.


# Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time...


Brian Blessed is a man with a greater sense of adventure. He has


been a pioneer of Live TV drama. He has climbed Everest. He has


presented wish shows. I am Brian Blessed. He has flown with Flash


Gordon and paid cats and emperors. -- played. And throughout it all,


Brian has had a fascination with religion. He has met the Dalai Lama,


played Saint Peter and called on divine help when needed. 1 Everest


when an avalanche is coming down in this place and that place, 200 mph


and it is heading for the, I called for God. He is, of course famously


loud. "Gordon's alive!". Brian is a force of nature, if you want


something extreme and mad and poetical, Brian is your man.


will fill any room. But there is a side to him that few know about, a


more reflective Brian Blessed. is a national asset. There should


be railings but around him. We are going to sail to the top this time.


Brian Blessed is one of our best- loved actors and he is a man with a


taste for adventure. We now he has climbed mountains but he is also on


a spiritual quest. -- we know. I have no idea what Turner this


conversation will take. -- what turn.


So, Brian, this is your temple. it is. To your work and you're


doing so. Yes. I have always wanted to have a shared and my wife was


not always that happy about it -- shed, that I didn't want to be in


the house, but quite a lot of men, they want to have that kind of


cubbyhole. I love peace. I love silence. The Boer War is very thick


in his wooden shed -- the Boer War. I can come here and be meditate and


pray and I can read and learn. It is here that I create my projects


and the things I want to do. Brian was born in 1936 and grew up in a


village in South Yorkshire the son of a miner. He was a boy with a


vivid imagination. As a child, I wept at the thought that there were


no dinosaurs. I missed the dinosaurs. And I used to create


them and scare the whole street. I said they lived under my house in


great caves and caverns leading down to South America. And they


believed me. A petition was drawn up by the parents, a long line of


parents to our house, to complain that my imagination was too much to


the children and I had to tell them there were no such thing as


dinosaurs and I refused. When I discovered at the age of six that


the planet Mars existed and there were other worlds beside mind... We


are the children of stardust, as old as the universe, we are part of


it. All of that was in me as a child. I arrived happy. I feel as


if I am trying to tether a hot-air balloon. You don't spend your life


with us mortals, do you? I do, I do. He is a one-off, it is a terrible


cliche, but he is. Like no one else. He is not constricted by class, he


is never showing off, he is authentic and eccentric, yes, but


not in a self-conscious way. If a true eccentric doesn't know perhaps


why he is funny. Sunday Driver! am not sure whether Brian knows


about reining himself in. I admire that. There are lots of us who


would love to think that we could just let ourselves go in any


society. The most important thing in life is to love yourself. Oscar


Wilde said "To love oneself is to have a lifelong romance", and so I


do love my company and I like myself, and therefore, I like


people. He has this extraordinary vitality and sometimes it is


completely off the wall, but there is always an absolute truth and


honesty about what he says and what he believes. When he comes round,


my children adore him, and they see the truth very instant the, kids,


whether people are interested in them, what they like a don't like -


- instantly. They think Brian is the funniest person on the planet.


He never forget she wore what he cares about and his generosity of


spirit and generosity of soul will never be diminished -- he never


forgets you or what he cares about. Perhaps that the generosity of soul


first sprang from his interest even as a child in religion. But that


interest was even quashed before it began. We had a wonderful school


and wonderful teachers. Three or four times a week, you had the BBC


Rep company doing religious stories. You would hear the same actors


doing it. "I am Jesus!" And they were lacking. But Mr RB, he was at


gardening teacher and a priest on the weekends, he had one eye -- Mr


Paul Daly. He totally entranced me about Jesus as we turned over the


compost heap. We talked about the distances Jesus walked. He worked


it out in mileage, he was incredibly fit, and what kind of


language he had used. Brian lived in the village of Goldthorpe in


South Yorkshire. Most families they relied on the Colman's for


employment. -- coal mines. It was a hard life with little scope for


ambition. Most of the kits would follow their fathers down the mines


and marry pretty younger and that is how they imagined it would


always be. A difficult life with soot in your lungs and it collapses.


Not exactly the highest paid job and one of the most dangerous and


unpleasant. So Brian, although his childhood was tough, then it an


inspiring time. The coal mines, they were wonderful days. I am not


knocking the days I had. The war years were wonderful and fed meat,


my imagination, because we had to cinemas in the village -- fed me.


We could see Flash Gordon in black and white, we had a wooden radios,


no television, programmes on the BBC, and Mike father was a cold


cure and he came through at home with their gas lights -- my father


was a cold cure. He came through like Hector, with his light on. "I


am reading about the amazing Mr X, Dad!". And I had uncles with


enormous power he would go to the opera in Sheffield, Orpheus in the


underworld, and they would describe it and acted and we had heroes


around us. With such inspiration, it is hardly surprising that Brian


felt drawn to perform himself. He discovered that he had a talent for


acting and there were plenty of opportunities close at hand for


young person keen to take the stage. There was a man in South Yorkshire


called Harry Dobson. I have never met the director to recall him, as


a mentor, a big man with sausage fingers, great big ball of a man,


and I beg him to take me on. He said, "My God, lad, you're a rough


diamond. It's going to be an lot of hard work". And he worked on May.


Harry Dobson worked on another people who would become a famous


actor. The future captain of the USS Enterprise, Patrick Stewart.


is strange to think that these two, one of them unbelievably hairy and


I think Patrick Stewart was bowled when he was 17, so a wonderful


mixture, -- bald. I think God was soon an amusing mood when he was


sending babies down the chimney that particular day, he thought


there would be fun to have been that part of Yorkshire with two


extraordinary people, both of them extraordinary actors. Patrick has


that extraordinary tenor voice. Brian like this... The most


extraordinary couple. Let's ask about this voice. As a South


Yorkshire boy, you obviously had a good Yorkshire accent, and now...


Yes, it was a problem. Patrick Stewart was the same. He was my


buddy, Patrick, though he was much more refined. I have to say, the


people in South Yorkshire found it very hard to understand what I was


saying. I told him very much a Yorkshire accent, even Shakespeare,


everything. I could hold on to the Val also be there could reasonably


understand, but by Haddad incredibly thick Yorkshire accent,


more than anybody ass -- I had. Harry encouraged him to moderate


his accent but not lose the expression. The result is one of


the most distinctive voices. He has resonance, power. I will never


bring him back, he can stay there and rot. Brian was always quite


allowed young man. He wasn't quiet. He has a kind of Henry VIII sort of


voice. It is like an instrument, his voice. At first blush, he


appears to be allowed, and they actor. -- a loud. And then you


realise he is very good. Goldthorpe in the early 1950s,


Brian's new way of speaking and his love of acting lead from criticism


from some who felt he was getting above himself -- led to criticism.


For his bravado, he was a sensitive lad. I think he is more complicated


than he seems and growing up in Yorkshire, this mixture of


sensitivity and intelligence, with a big, boisterous energy and


strength, it is an odd combination. I don't think, if you're an actor,


it's very easy to be part of the group who grew up with and there


she grew up with in a bohemian sort of atmosphere, because most people


regard actors as a bit weird, and I can't imagine what a lot of his


contemporaries, the other boys at school, would have thought, that


saw him on stage, speaking in Shakespearean verse or whatever.


harsh review in the local paper of one of his amateur performances had


a terrible effect on Brian. It led to dramatic break them. The paper


claims that he had over acted his part. Everywhere I went, people


said, I will try to this part. It was a chink of light armour, and I


didn't take any notice, or so I thought. I ignored them and ignored


them and then suddenly I found, gradually, that I was becoming


morose. And my mother was frightened. I would come home in


the evenings and look at the fire, with big staring eyes. "You're


frightening me, Brian, what's the matter?" "I'm fine!" I thought my


thoughts were speeding up, "You have got a gift, you have got a


gift" and I was doing it all day. I couldn't cope. And then I called


for God. Help may! I'm drowning! I need help! -- help me. And I called.


No point being an armchair philosopher, do you believe in God,


do you not? For God's sake, if you are put in that situation, you call


for help and I needed help, I was There was an answer to Brian's plea


for help in the form of his speech to a chair, Frank Cooper. Brian


went to visit him. I walked in through the door. Forget the speech


election, I am finished! I can't think, I can't speak, I can't do


anything. And I collapsed. I said "I'm no good, everyone says it" And


I wept and wept and groaned Emily and groans and collapsed,


unconscious on the floor -- a million groans. When I woke up, he


was washing my face with at Halle and his wife was saying "It's all


right." And he started singing songs and then he did some poetry


about love and bits of Shakespeare, bits of this, bits of that.


Wonderful, deeper things that penetrated my head. And he stroked


my head and whispered all of these are wonderful Lions from Ulysses by


Tennyson, to strive to yield, you know. Not to Gillian and it all


went in to my head -- give in. And he cured me. It was a miracle. And


I laughed and he said, that better. Nice to see a laugh. You'll be all


right now. And that never looked Brian has certainly never looked


back. After National Service with the RAF, he went to drama school at


the Bristol Old Vic. Brian was different, he was quite different


from all other students. Not that one particularly looked up to buy


up -- to Brian. One just looked at him in amazement and wonder. Brian


used to tell stories, a bit like a fairy stories, and everything he


ever said, one bought 100%, even though one may have thought, he is


having me on. You believe everything and maybe that is the


mark of somebody who is rather a good actor. Brian couldn't be


described as a model student. He had his own ideas. He wouldn't


necessarily do what teachers wanted him to do. Maybe that is the nature


of a drama school. I am not sure that they are much use to you, if


you have already got what Brian He didn't have to wait long for


success. His first big role was in I watched Z Cars as a boy. If I


hear that tuned to this day, I get prickles up the back of my neck.


Cars was a police drama set in the fictional Liverpool suburb of


Newtown. What was startling is that it was an extremely realistic


depiction of police work. He is arguing with the inspector, he


can't win. It used top quality writers, high quality scripts and


realism about police work, and compelling characters. Brian played


a confident bobbly, nicknamed Fancy Smith. I am going to have to take


you in for stealing property from a toy company. I have nothing to say,


I want my scarf. We can let him have a cup of tea before he goes?


We could, I suppose. It was a series that lived dangerously. It


went out alive. It is being with him, I suppose. Live performance


gives you the same as theatre, it gives you an age, and excitement, a


pace. The other side of that is that you can't, by definition, have


retakes. Genuine courage was required. I did not by those


brushes. As far as I know, he opened the door and he went. What


courage was it, to do a live broadcast every week, live


television is exciting, and good fun. But dangerous. Yes. It was all


new on Z Cars. It was 45 minutes live, and five minutes filmed. We


had 24, to 28 million viewers. The first time I was introduced as


Fancy Smith, dancing outside a pub, I a slightly get a word wrong.


you got... One of those cars. managed to grip on and do something


interesting. You wait there.


I almost lost it, I almost lost my nerve. After that, I was fine. I


could do anything on a live show. Ad-lib if things went wrong, hold


up a wall if things went wrong. Even hold up the car if the springs


had gone in the studio. I have said nothing about it to


John. I believe you. You don't! It was a wonderful challenge.


guests used to have terrible times. John Hurt, I had a 10 minutes seen


with him. The light came on, that meant 24 million, or 28 million


viewers, and I was supposed to break him down. I said, I want to


have a word with you. He said, I'm guilty. Steel 10 minutes scene had


gone! The news went out 10 minutes early map - the whole 10 minutes


scene had gone. It was me who got the blame. When the news comes in


early, it is because people are terrified of me! Fancy Smith is


this marvellous character that you grew and loved and created. He was


as big and as famous as The Beatles, they were there at the time as well.


Yes, I couldn't walk down the street. I lived in Richmond, Surrey.


I had to wait until about 515, and rushed to Woolworths and get some


food quick. I went to Derby to do a book signing, I had never done a


book signing. James Bond was on, Sean Connery, From Russia With Love,


thousands of people were going to see this film. I said, can you tell


me the way to this book... He's here! I spent nine hours in this


book shop, signing autographs with the police looking after me. That


was the effect of Z Cars. It was phenomenal. How do you stop that


making you too big for your boots? Or did it affect you? You are young


man, it is going to have an effect on you. It was a shock that one


could be so well known. And yet not known? I wasn't resentful, but I


realised I had lost a lot of freedom. That I couldn't get around,


I couldn't go into my parks. I was already thinking of Adventures and


things, it curtailed a lot of that. I slightly became a prisoner. I


think it would be fair to say, I was known as the big head of the


company. In that I tended... I find it difficult, being a somewhat


classical actor. I had to do a little bit off the set as well,


which I think people found a bit Brian had run-ins with one member


of the cast in particular, Stratford Johns, who played


Inspector Barlow. I said you are a cheeky young fellow. I was always


answerable to him, as the inspector in Z Cars, Stratford Johns. In I


Claudius, I was Augustus Caesar. Suddenly, he was a senator in my


court. There was a long scene, I walk down and I put it in and I say


about moderation. Don't I know you? No, Caesar. He suddenly dropped it


After leaving Z Cars, Brian took on roles very different from Fancy


Smith. He played St Peter in its Dennis Potter's controversial TV


drama, Son Of Man. Brian hadn't lost his childhood fascination with


the figure of Jesus. Colin Blakely played the title role. I wanted to


come with me. Where to? All over this land, I have to preach to the


people. I have to tell them things kept secret since the world began.


There had not been many depictions of Christ, or Christ's story in


broadcasting, because for many decades they were not allowed.


What Dennis Potter did, and the cast did fantastically well in Son


Of Man, was to try to give a more naturalistic, realistic portrayal


of that story. And so the key thing in the acting and the writing was


realism. When it came to doing the film, when they started the first


scene, Colin could not come out of his dressing room. I can't be


choosers, I can't do it. He was a terrific actor. -- I can't be Jesus.


They couldn't get him out. I went in there. I had him doing the


Lord's Prayer. I said, that's it, that's it, mechanical. Like every


time people do the Lord's Prayer, it is generally mechanical. So


there is a kind of boredom element about it. I had him doing things,


for thine is the kingdom! Thine is the kingdom! The Power And the


Glory! For ever! And ever! And it shook him. And I said. Get on and


play it! And he was tremendous. He sailed through it and it came to


the Crucifixion. It is the Crucifixion... You find out, you


ask, before you do the scene. You find out what it means. And he went


on the cross, and he went, my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?


Colin went, my God! My God! Swire Everybody went, God... It was


amazing. It was so amazing that there were live debates after it on


television. And all sorts of things. Yes. What do you feel about this?


He was a real man, he had hairs on his chest, he had failings. He said,


is it me? One word from the cross, only. Why have you forsaken me. The


one that expresses doubt. This sums up quite validly, dramatically from


Dennis Potter's point of view, that this in no doubt is in Jesus. He


doesn't say that the final words of Christ are, it is completed, a cry


of triumph. More than 40 years on from Dennis Potter's drama, the


importance and power of the Crucifixion is undiminished for


Brian. The creator, God, loves his son. Who he is proud of. It's but


he allows his sons to be stretched on a cross, and nails put through,


and why? It is Jesus' mission, why he came. They would take all the


sins of the world on his shoulder. All the sins, Hitler, everything,


everybody, Saddam Hussein, whatever, all this, murderous killers, he


takes it all on his shoulders. And what loneliness must he feel, as he


allows himself to become a man? I am being over-dramatic on his


interview, aren't I? When are you not have a dramatic? There is


nothing I can do about it. I have a three-litre engine, there is hugger


all I can do about it. Brian is an extraordinary person to interview.


And he is right about the three- litre engine, he has an agent


energy for a man of 75. -- amazing energy. It has field some


remarkable acting. To be, or not to be. -- it has fuelled some


remarkable acting. This is my patch. It is something inside him. It


transmits through the camera, you don't have to stand next to him,


sit round the dinner table with him, be in his physical presence, I


think you can feel it. Sort of imagine it, imagine being hugged by


him and how it could turn into a rib cracking experience. I think he


is quite an instinctive actor, actually. I am not sure he goes


home at night and looks at the lines and thinks, if I go up at the


end of this line or down, that will do that. He was back - it was


always an adventure, and excitement, on stage to work with him. Some


people might say Brian is not subtle. But why should he be?


Quiches is a performer. He is an over a go. -- he is a performer. He


perhaps does more than is necessary, I sometimes have a longing to be a


private citizen again. One of Brian's most famous roles was


Caesar Augustus and the BBC series I Claudius. It showed he could play


not only policemen and fisherman, but emperors as well. I watch it at


least once a year, it is so magnificent. It is the last great


studio made drama in British television history. It is the


acting that people remember and they were really on a tightrope,


because they were using theatre actors predominantly and they bring


a power and a weight and a sort of Shakespearian Association. Is it


too late to lay down the burdens of office? You are just like your


father. Always wanting the Republic. He was my enemy to at one time. --


also. He was the bullying but rather put upon emperor, Augustus,


the first emperor. Under around him, his family and his loved ones were


being poisoned by his wife, whom he trusted and that the very end, he


himself is poisoned. It is very embarrassing. People might think we


were trying to poison you. death of August this is one of the


series's most famous moments. death scene is magnificent, if you


watch it, he keeps completely still with his eyes are open for, I think


it must be, 90 seconds. You actually watch him die, you see the


RA's the Delays slightly. They don't blink and he doesn't move. --


you see the IRA's blaze. It is one of the great death scenes in


television history. -- eyes glaze. The extraordinary adventure of


Brian Blessed's life took another turn in the early 80s and it had a


lot to do with a set of poems around cats and one of Britain's


most successful composers of musical theatre. When Andrew Lloyd


Webber said his next musical was based on TS Eliot's Old Possum's


Book of Practical Cats, the common feeling was that he was completely


mad and it would be a disaster, so the claws were red, as it were, for


Cats. -- out. It was as far away from the mainstream as you can get.


A group of people saying, "We are going to turn ourselves into


pussycats and we are going to seeing children's songs." it was an


extraordinary experiment. And the fact that it ran for 23, 24 years,


those of us involved could never quite believe it. Brian played the


role of the wise cat Old Deuteronomy.


# The cat who has led many lives... A Old Deuteronomy was gentle, why


is, ultimately ecstatic and priest like -- why is. And scarcely ever


moves, the traffic stops for him. Hatchback you've heard there are


several kinds of cat... I had no idea that Brian could sing,


but he was very game. He was very up for it. He was an adventurer in


every sense. The first time I saw my dad acting on a stage that I can


remember properly really was when he was in Cats. That was this


amazing voice. It was overwhelming, so exciting. The first six months,


it was like no other show. It was transcendental, wherever you went.


You could touch the air. The audience and the cast became one.


Old Deuteronomy stayed on stage during the interval, and children


were encouraged to cuddle and talk to him. It became a big thing. Boys


and girls dressed as cats and they would come and sit with me.


stage? They would have ice-creams and talk to me. It is lovely to see


your dad like that, everyone loving him and him being the safe, warm


place. When I was that age, I was five, that is what he was for me.


Then up on stage, he was that for everybody else, which was lovely.


At one performance, something remarkable happened. There was a


man and woman to bear and a little girl and I said "Are you enjoying


it?" and she said "... Yes" And her parents started to cry and I


thought I had said the wrong thing. And they said, "Know, quite the


contrary. That is the first time at child has ever spoken -- no.". And


she came after that quite regularly and her speech got better and


better. What you think it was in Old Deuteronomy that did something


to that little girl that she could respond? She totally and utterly


believed that as Old Deuteronomy... She forgot her ailment and


responded with great heart. She just believe did me. A child's


belief is astonishing, isn't it, occasionally? Occasionally, you get


feedback from audience, a letter, a postcard, a telephone call, and the


sort of incident that Brown has described, where somebody will say


that as a result of the show, something like changing has gone on


-- Brian has described. You definitely can't ever set out to


bring that about and if you hear of such a thing, it is only humbling


and just make you go a bit quiet. There is one place that appealed to


Brian's sense of adventure far more than being on stage in the West End.


Somewhere that as a boy, he often dreamed of. Mount Everest. Brian


was inspired by one climber in particular, George Mallory, who in


1924, died attempting to conquer the peak. I wanted to follow in his


footsteps to pay tribute to this great man, and his great


mountaineer friends, a tribute to their great ideals. Ideals that to


a certain extent we have lost the day. People said it was impossible.


But Bryant didn't want to just conquer Everest, he wanted to make


a film that faithfully recreated Mallory's climb. Murray left his


wife and children, babies basically, for this dream and passion -- and


Mallory. I think that appealed to Brian, because he has the same


desire to do something extraordinary. There is no way that


Brian could play Mallory. He was too old, he was and slim and young.


But what he did do was embody Mallory. He sold it as a one-man


show up Everest. And also not in modern beer. We had gone out and


got tweed jackets and tweed trousers -- Kiev. And hobnail boots,


basically. We were doing it as Mallory would have done it. When


Dad did finally go up Everest to make his film, I think my mother


and I just listened to the silence. It was quite restful, because he


had been so obsessed with it was such a long time, he needed to go


out there and do it, because he could only tell us the story so


many times. And there was only so me times we could hear it. John-


Paul Davidson knew that when Brian Ayres or Everest for the first time,


it would be a moment he had to capture -- saw Everest.


purposely held it back from him and those days, you had to have all the


magazines Loaded, so could week -- so we could record his first sight


of the mountain, when you see it at the head of the ballet. It was


extraordinary, because he just filled up. It looks so beautiful. I


can see the North face... He is not one for weeping and crying, but you


could see the intensity of the experience. He had dreamt about


this moment for so long. I think that is where... That is where


Mallory is. I just can't believe I am there. It is a dream come true.


Just to add to the adventure, despite the dangerously thin air,


Brian was climbing without oxygen. He loves the fact that he has a


pair of lungs on him that are almost unique and therefore have


allowed him to climb up Everest and without using oxygen. Yet when you


speak to him, he is always wheezing and you think "How can he even


climb the stairs" This is hell, I never envisaged this.


I have always thought that my father was indestructible and I


have no doubt that he would come back. He is a force of nature and I


can't imagine anything ever happening to him. I have never


climbed a mountain, so I don't know, but I have a feeling that there


must be a conversation that the mountain is having with you.


there something spiritual, that when you get so high and you can


see the heavens and you are so close, do you feel you are closer


to something else? Absolutely. And the beauty of the place is


staggering. The privilege of being amongst its millions of rainbows


and to look up into the cobalt blue and the ridges that go on, and the


curvature of the Earth. You are closer to the Creator. Your


emotions are rarefied. For me, the sacrifice of being physically


pummelled was made up for by the spiritual ascent that I made and I


have never looked back since. were talking before you went and I


heard you say that you were concerned about hallucinating it,


you were scared of that, yet fellow climbers said they are to be


welcomed. Yes, I welcomed them indeed. Reinhold Messner, the


greatest mountaineer ever, he said, "You hallucinate, that is good and


you will talk to your rucksack, it is good. Hallucinate with the


mountain and she will look at you". So just go with it.


Everest, or when it is you are feeling refined and in love with it,


that is when she is at her most dangerous. And at one point, my


grandfather appeared. This happens many time on Everest Two people.


Open but you better go down, that, you have done really well, -- "You


better go down, lad, you have done really well." And I turned around


and he was not there. He is not there. Then I turned around and he


was still there. Solid. I have had that experience several times on


Everest. We are going to sail to the top


this time, God willing! All we will stamp to the top. We are taking the


Brian did it turn back. He had climbed to 27,000 feet -- did turn


back. It was a significant achievement. There is just now F. I


have got to stop or I will never get back. -- no the air. I can't


think of many actors that would have the endurance, the fortitude,


the persistence, all the qualities that are needed to climb any


For Brian, life is a spiritual as well as a physical adventure. On


his expedition, he was fascinated by the Buddhist faith of the


Himalayan people he encountered. To Brian's delight, after much


negotiation, he was able to meet the Dalai Lama and get his blessing


for that climb. But any conversation involving Mr Blessed


can take an unusual term. Mallory, when they were first going, they


were going through Tibet and had to get permission from the Dalai Lama


to climb it, because it is a sacred mountain. I was trying to recreate,


in a sense, that meeting. Brian was, of course, thrilled to meet him.


And it his blessing. That was what we were hoping for. He was very


generous and found the meeting with Prayad Hallur areas. Brian is not


intimidated with anyone -- the meeting with Brian hilarious. The


I think a middle-aged man here, dressed in 1920s clothes, very much


needs a lot of blessing. It would be a great privilege and I would be


This is a symbolised blessing. you meet someone like the Dalai


Lama, if you can get some time alone with him, or someone like


that, you become yourself. I was almost rude to him. I am saying,


it's Your Holiness, you make me 6th! You make me really sick! Why


do I make you sick? Because you are so good! It is hard to live with.


So millions turn out to see you, you are so good! Don't you ever get


angry? Yes, if you weeks ago, a doctor came to inject me, to go


abroad, and he had a needle, and he stuck it and it went into my bone


and I was in such pain, I thought, I hate that doctor, he is fatter


than... What? Fatter than me? Is that what you are saying? I am a


human being, you are going to hurt me. I am hurt.


So, please forgive me. On your knees! He goes on his


knees! I said, all right, I am a forgiving man, I forgive you, stand


up. That was my relationship with him all the time. He is a man with


a powerful sense of humour? A huge sense of humour. This extraordinary


conversation took an even more surprising twist. Brian claims that


the Dalai Lama knew that Brian's brother was seriously ill, and told


him that when he died, he would be reincarnated. He said, your brother,


not well. It won't be long now. It's when you pass away. -- when he


passed away. But three, 4 o'clock in the morning, he believed in God.


He will be fine. He will be born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Yeah. I never


mentioned that before. Good heavens, did that come true? I believe so. I


would rather leave it alone, but yes. That is what he said. My


brother is alive in Nova Scotia, about 12 years old. Go at heavens.


-- good heavens. Can I ask you how you know that? Because I have


visited him. I went to Halifax, I was filming in some lovely studios


there. I went to this area where he was, and that is exactly the guy I


knew, my little brother when I was 12 years of age, with a Canadian


accent. I have to keep asking you this. Did the Dalai Lama to you


precisely the address? He did. went to that address and waited?


didn't tell anybody, I said I was in the area for but I didn't even


say to the boy. The boy like me straight away, we got on very well.


I was looking at Allen. You totally believe that? Totally. I find that


life is a miracle, the whole thing is a complete miracle. I agree that


life is a miracle in itself, but once again, Brian has left me with


For many people, Brian Blessed is not associated with climbing


Everest, starring in Z Cars, or I Claudius. Instead, he is famous for


possibly the two best-known words in cinema history. I am sure when


he goes down the street, everybody shouts, Gordon's a live! Because


that is how they remember him, been good old Flash Gordon. Flash Gordon


was an epic and slightly camp science-fiction film, in which


Brian played Prince Vultan, leader of the Hawkmen. It was a part that


Brian was thrilled to take. Did you think this was going to be a very


defining role for you? This is your Everest, on film, in a way? Yes, I


did. I had seen Flash Gordon as a child in the local cinema, the


Empire Cinema, once a week on Saturday, in black and white,


terrific. I always pretended to be Prince Vultan, pretending to fly


and jumping off the bridge, on to the top of a train and on again.


Anyway, I never dreamt I would play it. During one important day's


filming, Brian got rather carried away. His boyhood self took over.


There is a scene in it, where we attack a rocket ship. It took five


days to get these dynamite ready, the special effects, the lads on


board, the monsters on board. We are flying 2,500 men. We are trying


to get ready, I had a big bazooka, which was made of cardboard. It


took five days to get ready, stand by! Action! Come in, a flash! Dive!


Which I invented, it is from the iron. Squadron 14, died! -- it is


They said, cut, cut, cut. Brian, we put in the special effects. I had


never felt such a twit in all my life. Because I was doing the


special effects with my mouth. bless you! They had to reset the


whole thing, it took two days. Brian! We put in the special


effects! You raced to be there. That is one of those... You'll have


to give us a quick Gordon's I live! I feel good! Wherever I go and I am


walking down the street, on the scaffolding and taxes, people say,


give us -- hears the telephone, please say to my wife, Gordon's


alive. Jukes and Lords and Camilla Parker Bowles! Would you mind


saying Gordon's alive. Everybody asks me to say Gordon's alive.


polls continued to slide for Gordon Brown. Some people are saying he's


dead and buried, but I think the opposite. I say Gordon pars alive!


Yes! Other people know dad would different things. The vast majority


of what defined the idea of Brian Blessed really was Prince Vultan.


Which is fantastic, I just think it's a bit of a shame that some of


his other work gets missed. He is no one-trick pony, but sometimes I


think people see him like that. There is a difficulty being an


actor, many actors go through their careers without ever having a stand


out role. Obviously, that's bad. The flipside is that sometimes, you


get a role that is so remarked on, and so visible, that it actually


overshadows the rest of your career, and the decisions of casting


directors. I think that did happen with Flash Gordon. It was such a


perfect role that I think that after that, when the parodies of


Brian Blessed really became very big. Do you have a copy of All


quiet On the Western Front? quiet on the Western Front! Let me


just check! With his booming voice and Everest sized personality,


there was always a danger that Brian would become an exaggeration


of his younger self. He seems very comfortable, it is just another


part of his big adventure. Bollards! Is see a national


treasure, yes. He is a national asset. There should be railings but


around him. He has done 60, 70 films now. Dad had is still the


high point, physically and I think, metaphorically, of what I have done


I would like to say how really lucky I think I am, to have grown


up with someone who is so it's generous, and extraordinary and


funny. And just inspiring. You know, and a pain, obviously! Brian is


still busy acting, which after 50 years in the profession, is quite


an achievement. Last year, he and Ros perform together for the first


time in the BBC series, Doctors. She played a daughter whose father


is suffering from memory loss and he believes he should go into an


old people's home. How long have you been in the nursing home?


has been an age. South you tried it for one day. It is full of old


people! It was lovely to work with dad, we have never acted face to


face before. It was basically a tussle between a daughter, who


wants to come into her own right as a person, who has grown up with a


famous father. I don't know where they got that idea!


Daddy, are you all right? Yes, I frightened Stirling Moss here.


you only know how much it's worry you have called me. I have aged 20


years in an hour. That's nice, you can catch up with me! It's not


funny! Your youngest daughter is an actress and recently, your paths


crossed and you work together. Was that a deliberate happening? They


cast their before me and then they realised I would be good as an


eccentric who is a bit of a genius. I wish I had been born infertile.


wish I had been brought up by nerves -- by walls. I was very


nervous. She is very mercurial and volatile. The pair of us, having


such gargantuan qualities, would we Daddy, you are wonderful. But if we


carry on like this, we are going to kill each other. And I love you too


much. Our time in Brian's little hut at the end of his garden is


almost over. With Christmas close at hand, I wondered how Brian's


family would be spending it. How important is this Advent time for


you? I find I will not be put off Christmas. Since a child. I find it


my favourite time of the year. I love all the carols. Some of them


There is something about it that centres people, and that I believe,


even the person who despises the commercial side of Christmas, or


quietly on their own somewhere, in their garden, in their sitting room


somewhere, quietly just so's an unheard pref -- quietly just says.


An unheard prayer. Because we are saved. The politicians can't save


us, but we are saved by this single act of colossal bravery, and by the


trust of the maker. Happy Christmas, What an extraordinary man Brian


Blessed is. I know he has conquered so many things in this physical


life, whether climbing mountains or creating Prince Vultan ordering


whatever he does, but it is the spiritual question inside him that


is so fascinating. I don't know what he is going to do next, he


probably will climb Everest, he probably will be on the first space


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