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Brian Blessed, OBE (born 9 October 1936) is an English actor, writer, television presenter and singer.

Blessed is known for portraying PC "Fancy" Smith in Z-Cars, Augustus in the 1976 BBC television production of I, Claudius, Prince Vultan in Flash Gordon, Bustopher Jones and Old Deuteronomy in the 1981 original London production of Cats at the New London Theatre, Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter in Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of Henry V, Boss Nass in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and the voice of Clayton in Disney's Tarzan.

In 2016, Blessed was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the arts and charity.


Brian Blessed was born on 9 October 1936 at Montagu Hospitalin Mexborough, Yorkshire, the son of William Blessed, a socialist coal miner at Hickleton Main Colliery (and himself the son of a coal miner), and Hilda Wall. Blessed attended Bolton on Dearne Secondary Modern School, but was forced to leave school early due to family financial troubles, and spent several unhappy years working at a variety of jobs, ranging from undertaker to plasterer's assistant to time in the RAF. He suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of 18, from which he recovered to pursue an acting career, beginning his training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

At the beginning of his career, Blessed had small roles in such cult shows as The Avengers and the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). His first well-known role was that of PC 'Fancy' Smith in the BBC police drama Z Cars from 1962 to 1965. He then went on to portray Caesar Augustus in the BBC series I, Claudius, for which performance he won the New York Critics Award. He has appeared in a number of Shakespearean roles on both stage and screen, including four of the five Shakespeare films directed by Kenneth Branagh: as The Duke of Exeter in Henry V, Antonio in Much Ado About Nothing, The Ghost of Hamlet's Father in Hamlet and the dual role of Duke Frederick and Duke Senior in As You Like It.

Other roles have emphasised his comedic abilities. In particular, Prince Vultan in Flash Gordon; the mad, comic figure of Richard IV in the first series of The Black Adder; and Spiro in the BBC adaptation of My Family & Other Animals. He also played the role of General Yevlenko in the 1988 mini-series War & Remembrance.

He provided the vocal links on the Sony-Award-winning Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio and introduced adverts for Orange mobile phones. At Christmas 2006, he presented a panto Cinderella for Virgin Radio starring actors such as David Tennant and Thandie Newton. In November 2006, Blessed made a surprise appearance on the midday talk show Loose Women. Also, he is featured reading the story "The White City Part 1" which is the final piece on the album Late Night Tales: Nightmares On Wax.

Demonstrating his versatility, Blessed has also starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats as both Old Deuteronomy and Bustopher Jones during the original London production. In 2002, under the direction of Royal Shakespeare Company director, Adrian Noble, Blessed originated the role of Baron Bomburst for the stage musical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, for which he received tremendous acclaim.

Blessed currently lives in Windlesham, Surrey. He married actress Hildegarde Neil Zimmermann in 1978 and they have one daughter, Rosalind. He was previously married to American actress Ann Bomann and had a daughter named Catherine; the couple later divorced. Blessed owns several dogs and is a patron of the Hopefield Animal Sanctuary.


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