We all have that one friend that we know who HAS NO INDOOR VOICE! You know - the one who is REALLY LOUD AND NOISY. Now, meet their King... BRIAN BLESSED! OBE (born 9 October 1936 in Mexborough, England)
Perhaps best known in America as Prince Vultan of the Hawkmen in the Flash Gordon movie ("GORDON'S ALIVE?!" "DIIIIIIIIIVVEEEEE!!"), he is widely regarded as one of the Largest Hams in existence. However, he is by nature a stage actor, and his hamming is by design. As he has proven on (very) occasional films, he is actually capable of delivering a subtle and understated performance; he just usually doesn't bother (and is fully aware that people usually hire him to be larger-than-life).
He keeps in shape by climbing up large mountains. About the only thing on Earth larger than BRIAN BLESSED is Mount Everest, which he has attempted to scale three times without quite reaching the summit each time. Indeed, he has a story about narrowly avoiding an avalanche during a climb which caused him to, quote, "rage at the mountain". Yes, BRIAN BLESSED bellowed Mt Everest itself into submission. He also had to rescue a companion who broke his leg on one occasion, halting a mere (mountain climbing terms) few hundred feet from the summit, according to that nice Mr. Stephen Fry, off of the telly. By way of compensation, he instead became the oldest man to reach the North Magnetic Pole on foot, where he says he punched a polar bear on the nose.
BLESSED's reputation for boisterousness is such that some online forums, such as Gallifrey Base (a major Doctor Who forum) are coded so that whenever his name is typed in, the website automatically renders it in ALL CAPS as done here.
In his personal life, BLESSED is almost but not quite the exact opposite of his stage persona. BLESSED is a mild-mannered and soft-spoken man, who is a vegetarian, practices meditation and spends a lot of time caring for abused animals. He is well aware of his boisterous reputation and enjoys poking fun at it on TV chat shows and in public appearances, which is one reason why he has long been a beloved celebrity in the UK.
He has also revealed that Peter Capaldi was mistaken for a transvestite after he accidentally punched him and knocked his former co-star out while they were shooting a scene for The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. To this day, whenever BLESSED hears Capaldis name, hes relieved he didnt kill him.
- After a campaign by fans, tomtom have worked with Brian to record a voice track for their satnav appliances. The campaign's own demo video starring Brian himself can be found here on Youtube. His excited thanks to the 25,000+ people who signed up for the campaign can be found here. In response to their success, Brian suggested in an interview that somebody should make a campaign to send BRIAN BLESSED to the moon. note
- ASB Bank's ad campaign, Succeed On, in which Brian encourages New Zealanders to CELEBRATE THEIR SUCCESS!
- KEEP THE BADGERS ALIIIIIIIVE!
- A long-runing campaign for insurers National Accident Helpline, stars Joe Pasquale as the hero Underdognote , and Brian as the voice of oppression. The commercials emphasise the contrast between Pasquale's squeaky voice and Brian's roar.
- Hellmann's mayonnaise, where he is seen asking a taxi driver "MAN ALIVE! WHAT'S WRONG WITH BIIIIIIG TOMATOES!!!!!
- In 2015, he recorded a radio ad for Gumtree, a UK online classifieds website. The ad claims that everything on Gumtree, including buying on selling, is easy.And they hired me, BRIAN BLESSED, so even HEARING this ad is easy!!
- BLESSED plays British adventure author G. A. Henty in Heirloom audio's adaptations of several of Henty's stories, including "Under Drake's Flag" and "With Lee in Virginia". He's a very bombastic narrator indeed! BRIAN BLESSED's beard is a good match for Henty's too. Not that it matters much in an audio story...
- In 2018, Games Workshop announced that in Kingslayer, the audiobook series reintroducing Gotrek Gurnisson in the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar universe, BRIAN BLESSED was cast as Gotrek himself. Needless to say, GOTREK'S ALIIIIIIIIIVE!!!
- Played Vultan in Flash Gordon (1980) which has led to how in every public appearance since, he has to bellow out "GORDON'S ALIVE!!!!"
- Was far less hammy as the ghost in fellow large ham Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (he even managed to whisper loudly) and Signore Antonio in Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing.
- Also, the Duke of Exeter in Branagh's Henry V. ("What treasure, Uncle?" "Tennis balls, my liege!")
- He performed the dual roles of the brothers Duke Senior and Duke Frederick in a joint HBO/BBC production of As You Like It, also directed by (but not featuring) Branagh. He showed his range and interesting contrast between the dark, threatening Senior and the jovial Frederick.
- His voice performance of Boss Nass (the Gungan king) in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was quite over the top and possibly the most fun performance in the entire movie."YOUSA NO TINKEN YOUSA GREATER THAN THE GUNGANS? Meesa liiike dis. Maybe wesa...bein' friends! *SHAKES JOWLS LOUDLY*"
- He directed and starred in an adaptation of King Lear where he played the title character in 1999. It clocks in at one hundred and ninety two minutes. Strangely, where most actors would be screaming their heads off during the storm scene, Brian was much quieter in comparison to even how he usually is in films.
- In Gladiator, he's the coliseum patron who shouts "MAXIMUS THE MERCIFUL!" when Maximus spares Tigris of Gaul.
- He's also appeared in Tarzan as Clayton, and went on to reprise the role in Kingdom Hearts. His performance was still quite hamlike. He also provided the "Tarzan yell" for the film (since Tony Goldwyn wasn't able to create his own satisfactory version of the yell). Because of course he did.
- He's the Pirate King in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists. The film has numerous ham jokes and the levels of loudness on the Pirate of the Year form include BRIAN BLESSED as the loudest possible level.
- He appears as Friar Tuck in 2018's Robin Hood: The Rebellion.
- In Tom Andersons alternate history The Unreformed Kingdom, Mr. Blessed is the returning officer for the Doncaster by-election, causing someone to grumble that people will probably hear the results three miles away.
- In 1977, he appeared as the villainous hunter Brod in the third season Survivors episode "Law of the Jungle". He put in a performance that for anyone else would be over the top. For him, it qualifies as subtle. "You're not a tax inspector, are you, Charlie?!"
- He served up not one, but two large portions in Space: 1999; the first as Dr. Cabot Rowland in first season episode "Death's Other Dominion", the second as Maya's father Mentor in second season opener "The Metamorph".
- His crowning moment of hamminess is the Blake's 7 episode "Cygnus Alpha" in which just about every line he speaks could be replaced with "Did somebody order a LARGE HAM?".
- Was also in the first season of Blackadder as King Richard IV ("Chiswick! Fresh horses!").
- Played his best and most favourite role as the sympathetic, tragically naive (yet still occasionally bombastic) emperor Augustus in the acclaimed British mini-series I, Clavdivs. ("IS THERE ANYONE IN ROME WHO HAS NOT SLEPT WITH MY DAUGHTER?!!!")
- Played a significant part in the development of the British cop show:
- He taught MacGyver archaeology as part of Mac's Expansion Pack Past as seen in the MacGyver: Lost Treasure of Atlantis telemovie.
- Known to British viewers as Spiro in the 1987 version of the TV series My Family and Other Animals.
- He has also been sighted presenting Unbeatable Banzuke, enthusiastically, in the guise of "Banzuke Brian" attired in what appears to be red plastic faux-samurai armour several sizes too small, on the UK's Challenge telly channel.
- Appeared as host in Have I Got News for You in season 35, in a bizarre performance which was possibly so good it broke time. We'll just have to wait and see.
- Made a second appearance as host in season 45, which (coincidentally) happened to be set right after Margaret Thatcher's death. Although noticeably subdued compared to his first appearance, the episode contained several gems such as challenging Gerry Adams to a fistfight on national television.
- Also with Paul Merton he appeared on Room 101 demonstrating that his loudness was a choice in response to newsreader and presenter Kirsty Young wanting to put unnecessarily loud people in Room 101. BLESSED took the role of a whispering snooker commentator for about 26 seconds.
- He was on a Christmas episode of QI, in which he pulled Sean Lock off of his chair TWICE (by accident).
- Recently appeared in The Wrong Door as Captain Goitier the train pirate.
- In Season 23 of Doctor Who, he's King Yrcanos.
- Turned up as the Mystery Guest in a 2013 episode of Russell Howard's Good News.
- He was the guest narrator for episode 4 of Was It Something I Said? making Richard Ayoade ask why anyone else needed to talk that episode.
- He looked into his ancestors on Who Do You Think You Are?. Yes, he cried.
- In an episode of the British 1970s anthology show Thriller he gives a surprisingly quiet performance as a rural police chief helping a young woman investigate a cold murder case. Turns out he is the murderer, though.
- He had a brief role in a episode of Toast of London as the dying father of the lead character Steven Toast (played by fellow ham Matt Berry).
- On the 2014 remaster of Manowar's album "Kings of Metal", he appears as the narrator in the opening of "The Warrior's Prayer".
- Also in 2014 he recorded a version of "Sonic Attack" for Hawkwind's stage shows.
- He was the first to play old Deuteronomy in Cats. He was the one who came out after the show finished to tell the audience that there was a bomb alert.
- He had a live-action role in the otherwise-execrable Wing Commander Spin-Off Privateer 2: The Darkening. A certain notorious web critic gave it a good skewering (though he regarded the non-playable FMV bits to be fairly sound).
- Additionally, he narrated Viking: Battle for Asgard in which his narration stole the show and catapulted said game into the halls of awesome!
- He collaborated with Studio Fatshark for a Downloadable Content package for the game War of the Roses, allowing players to give his voice to their avatars in the game.
- He reprised his role as Tarzan's Clayton (see Western Animation) in Kingdom Hearts.
- He is the over-the-top commentator for the multiplayer battle arenas in LEGO Dimensions. He also reprises his role as Boss Nass in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.
- In the Alexander expansion of Rome: Total War, he voices King Phillip of Macedon in the battle of Chaeronea as well as the narrator in the historical battles, and provides the intro and ending speech in the campaign.
- And, further showing his historical roles, BLESSED also voices Lord Konrad Kyeser in Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
- On the Total War side of things, he reprises his role as Gotrek Gurnisson in Total War: Warhammer II.
- He voices Russian supervillain Red Ivan in Evil Genius 2.
- In late 2009, BLESSED played a time-displaced Henry VIII in the short internet series Henry 8.0.
- He lent his distinctive voice to the Weebl & Bob documentary on their first-year DVD.
- He voiced Santa in the Christmas episode of The Amazing World of Gumball. He's notably the first major guest-star voice on that series. Also notable in that Santa is rather closer to BRIAN BLESSED in real life, being a polite (but brutally honest) gentleman even when he loses his memory and thinks he's a hobo.
- He also voices a polar bear version of Santa in Danger Mouse (2015).
- He voiced Sir Morris (one of the two protagonists) in The Big Knights.
- General Ciaos in Asterix and the Big Fight, a large, bad tempered shouty man who sings opera in the bathtub, is voiced in the British English dub by....
- Played Grampy Rabbit in several episodes of Peppa Pig.
- His voice is readily recognizable in the third and final season of Little Princess in which he voices Princess's high-spirited Uncle Walter.
- He voiced the villain El Suprimo in the bewildering 1992 feature Freddie as F.R.O.7.
- He voiced Sir Jack Kleghorn in the Close Enough episode "Never Meet Your Heroes".
- He's also a voice actor in most animated adaptations of David Macaulay's architectural books, including Castle (as Master James of Babbington), Cathedral (as Master Guillaume de Solis), and Pyramid (as Grand Vizier Ankhaf). Viewers used to his Large Ham tendencies will be quite surprised to learn he's actually a bit more of a Cold Ham in these works.
Tropes related to BRIAN BLESSED:
- Awesome, Dear Boy: Apparently, he appeared in The Phantom Menace because he was disappointed not being asked to appear in the original trilogy (he and Sebastian Shaw, who played Anakin in the final scenes of Return of The Jedi were friends, and he was irritated to learn that Shaw was cast while not being a fan of the series). He read for mayor Sio Bibble, was considered too loud, but then given the voice of Boss Nass because the character just asked for it!
- Badass Baritone: When he isn't bellowing at the top of his lungs, Brian Blessed shows that he has a pretty good singing voice, and can perform opera. His Pavarotti impression is surprisingly good.
- Badass Teacher: He was in the running to be elected Chancellor of Cambridge University. Despite a compelling speech, Lord Sainsbury won instead. Bollocks.
- Big Fun: Even when playing Santa to introduce the Music Channel's 'Magic's Christmas Top 50' he manages to be a wonderful ho-ho-ham.
- Catchphrase: "GORDON'S ALIVE?!" Usually shouted at full volume, even if the original in Flash Gordon was hammy but spoken normally. He has fully embraced the phenomenon and has no problem delivering it time and again to everyone who requests it, and even the Queen asked him to say it.
- Chewing the Scenery: Scenery for BRIAN BLESSED is like gum. You can even see the teeth marks on his self-demonstrating article.
- Chivalrous Pervert: BRIAN BLESSED is a sexual yeti. That bit where Vultan plays grab-ass with Dale wasn't in the script.
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Outside of acting he has made several attempts to climb Mount Everest, although it's hard to see why - all he really needs to do is stand next to it (or perhaps glare ferociously until it crumbles in submission).
- Deadpan Snarker: Strange when held up to his usual roles, but he's possessed of an incredibly sharp and almost subdued wit.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: On his trek to the North Pole, he punched a polar bear in the face.
- Friend to All Living Things: As a vegetarian animal lover who described his late dog as a soul mate and has campaigned against the UK badger cull, BRIAN BLESSED is certainly this.
- "Gender-Normative Parent" Plot: Inverted. BLESSED's father was staunchly against his son following in his footsteps and working in the coal mine, and was deeply relieved when his son decided to try his luck on the stage, and as BLESSED has said repeatedly in interviews, the mining village he grew up in was actually very interested in and tolerant of the arts, of poetry and Shakespeare in particular.
- Gentle Giant: BLESSED may be calmer than apparent. During the filming of Prisoner of Honour he reportedly managed to keep Oliver Reed sober by sheer force of being big and intimidating. According to his official biography, Absolute Pandemonium: My Louder Than Life Story, BLESSED perceived Reed as intimidating the other people on set and would not put up with that.
- In real life his favourite food is cows, which he eats whole and in one gulp. (Seriously, though, he's a vegetarian and a regular meditator.)
- Gentleman Adventurer: BRIAN BLESSED is as famous as a mountaineer, polar explorer and potential astronaut as he is an actor.
- Intergenerational Friendship: with Katharine Hepburn (29 years older) after Trojan Women and with Kenneth Branagh (21 years younger) throughout the late 1980's and 1990's.
- LARGE HAM: There's a reason his name is in bold, all caps letters throughout this site. This is not unique to this website; some forums such as Gallifrey Base (dedicated to Doctor Who, on which he once guest-starred) are actually programmed to automatically render his name in all caps whenever it's typed in.
- If there was a way to make the name fill the entire screen, we would, rather aptly, use it.
- In the audiobook of his autobiography, "Absolute Pandemonium", read by BRIAN BLESSED of course, he recounts the time he auditioned for Orson Welles. BLESSED ends up doing an impression of Welles trying to subdue BLESSED himself through sheer volume and presence ("HOT... HHHOOOTTT... HHHHHHOOOOOTTTTTSPURRRRRRRRRR!!!!").
- Megaton Punch: Revealed in October 2014 that he accidentally knocked out Peter Capaldi while filming the costume drama The History Of Tom Jones in 1997. He also punched Harold Pinter down a flight of stairs when the playwright was at a party and challenging everyone to a fight.
- For this reason, cinema bad boy Oliver Reed, normally a drunken brawler and a bully if he thought he could get away with it, scrupulously behaved on and off set when BRIAN BLESSED was nearby. Brian could and did "have words" with Reed if he was behaving unacceptably.
- Milking the Giant Cow: If it were an actual cow, humanity would never be short of milk again.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: It is said by some that the character of Destruction (a sentient personification of difficult changes who has quit his job to become an artist) from The Sandman (1989) is based on him. Since author Neil Gaiman is one of the ones who says this, it is perhaps true but no less unlikely. Gaiman is dead set on having BLESSED play the role of Destruction in a movie adaptation.
- The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel "The Tomorrow Windows", features a very obvious Expy of BRIAN BLESSED, an alien actor named Prubert Gastridge who played Vargo, king of the Buzzardmen, in the film Zap Daniel and is famous for uttering the line "What do you mean, Daniel's NOT DEAD?" On being faced with death, his main thought is that he wanted to go out SHOUTING. ("He might not have been the greatest actor of his generation, but he was undoubtedly the loudest.")
- No Indoor Voice
- In a massive case of irony, there is a BRIAN BLESSED Centre for Quiet Study at York University.
- Odd Friendship: Surprisingly, Keanu Reeves claimed in an interview on British radio that during filming of Much Ado About Nothing, BLESSED befriended him and taught him how to meditate. Moviegoers may attribute Reeves' performance to that fact — though one wonders why in the hell BRIAN BLESSED wasn't the one taking lessons from Keanu on the subject.
- Older than They Look: Blessed is over 80, but looks at least 20 years younger.
- Promoted Fanboy: Of Flash Gordon (serial). As a child, he, his brother and their friends used to play "Flash Gordon", with Brian always insisting on being Vultan. Cue the Flash Gordon film in 1980, and guess who got to live out his boyhood dream by playing Vultan on film?
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Peter O'Toole offered him the chance to act opposite him in Macbeth, Brian gave him a piece of his mind while dragging O'Toole all over his house.Honestly, Peter, I dont want to work with someone who behaves like you do. I am ashamed of you as an artist. Actors look after their bodies, they study and study to try and better themselves. Yet you have a God-given talent and all you do is piss on it. Youre either off your face, angry or violent. You bully and manipulate people. Youre marvellous for a time, and then youre ugly once again. Youre a good-for-nothing shit, OToole. Thats what Ive come to tell you!
- Scaling the Summit: Frequently, though the summit of Everest continues to elude him.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Has one heck of a potty mouth, if this video is anything to go by.
- Stout Strength: If his appearances on QI are any indication, as he's pulled other panellists out of their chairs during contests of strength.
- Suddenly Shouting: Never has there been a better example than BRIAN BLESSED doing commentary for snooker.
- The Teetotaler: Believe it or not, unlike many other actors of his generation, he doesn't touch alcohol, believing it to bring out the more unpleasant parts of his personality.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With the late Peter O'Toole. Their relationship veered from fighting each other to bonding with each other over Shakespeare to fighting again to BRIAN BLESSED playing Banquo to O'Toole's Macbeth.
- What Could Have Been:
- He was approached for the role of the Second Doctor in Doctor Who before the casting of Patrick Troughton. However, he turned down the offer due to his reluctance to commit to a long-running series, a decision he later said he regretted. (Though we may have dodged a bullet, since he says his idea at the time was to play the Doctor as a Charlie Chan pastiche, in yellowface.) He would eventually go on to portray King Yrcanos in "Mindwarp".
- He was originally slated to portray Odin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before Anthony Hopkins was cast.
- And to combine the two examples above, he was originally set to return to Doctor Who in the new series to play the false Odin in "The Girl Who Died", but had to pull out due to illness.
- Patrick Stewart wanted him to play the corrupt Admiral Dougherty in Star Trek: Insurrection, a role that ultimately went to significantly quieter actor Anthony Zerbe.