Thespian, mountaineer and Internet icon – Brian Blessed has numerous geek roles under his substantial acting belt. Here’s how they stack up, in terms of quality and yelling:
Blakes 7 (1978): Vargas
An intergalactic space leader of Cygnus Alpha, Brian played Vargas, who was the first ‘baddie’ that the crew of Blakes 7 encountered. Vargas’s sole purpose was to take over The Liberator as part of a planned conquest of the galaxy. Not the most stretching of roles – Brian was shouty, over the top and generally did all the things he was most famous for.
Ahhh, now, this is classic. From the legendary “Gordon’s alive!” to “Oh well, who wants to live forever… DIIIIIIIIIVE!”, Brian has the time of his life: trussed up in fake tan, gold armour and fake wings, playing the part of his lifetime as Prince Vultan, leader of the Hawkmen. By far the best thing in the film (with the exception of Ornella Muti), this is Brian at his best and most over the top.
Quality:Shouting: The Black Adder (1983): King Richard IV
Just off the golden laméd back of Vultan, Brian once again gets to play over-the-top royalty when he dons a suit of blood – “BLOOD! … BLOOD!” – stained armour as the indulgent King Richard. With insane hair, mad eye makeup and a script that has more innuendo than all the Carry On films put together, this first outing of Edmund Blackadder is really over-shadowed by Brian’s king, who wants little or nothing to do with his weasley second son – especially when there is whoring, fighting, hunting and (of course) shouting to be done.
Quality:Shouting: Doctor Who (1986): Yrcanos
Keeping hold of his armour and barbarous ways, Brian takes to space once again – but this time as the intergalactic Warlord Yrcanos in the Colin Baker era Trial of the Timelords Who series from 1986. Enamoured with companion Perry, Brian was lecherous, loud and in charge. Eventually getting what he wants, the Timelords of Gallifrey show that Perry does indeed fall for Yrcanos’s hairy charms, and the two of them get married.
The childhood story of Gerald Durrell was dramatised in the 1980s in a superb Sunday evening BBC television series. It’s remembered now for two things, namely the beautiful scenery and Brian Blessed’s portrayal of Spiro, the “help” for the Durrell family. It’s different from his usual performances, as the shouting and over-the-top hamming was toned right down, showing that Brian actually has great range.
Quality:Shouting: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991): Lord Locksley
More of a cameo, this one, as Brian plays Lord Locksley, the father of Robin Hood. Conned out of his castle by the cloaked and masked Sheriff of Nottingham (the superb Alan Rickman), Locksley realises he’s been conned and proceeds to charge headlong into certain death.
Quality:Shouting: MacGyver: Lost Treasure of Atlantis (1994): Dr Atticus
Patty and Selma’s favourite show had a TV movie made that featured Brian Blessed – and, of course, Richard Dean Anderson searching for Atlantis. Borrowing a lot from the TV show Sliders, Brian’s role as a bumbling archaeologist Dr Atticus channels John Rhys Davies’s similar role and cannot, just cannot, be taken seriously. Avoid this like the plague.
Brian provided the voice of Gungan leader Boss Nass, just one of the CGI abominations to grace our screens in the first Star Wars prequel. A mix of Toad of Toad Hall and Bernard Manning, this slobbering mass of pixels is just darn awful and would have been the worst thing in the entire film, were it not for the existence of Jar Jar Binks. Eurgh.
Quality:Shouting: Tarzan (1999): Clayton
The forgotten Disney movie isn’t actually all that bad, especially since it features a superb turn by the Blessed as the evil big game hunter Clayton. Given the chance to chew the animated scenery, Brian takes full advantage and makes Clayton a great, but often overlooked, Disney villain.
Quality:Shouting: Have I Got News for You (2008): Himself
The best piece of television so far this year! This had me crying with laughter as Brian took the opportunity to do a one-man stand-up show rather than hosting the well known quiz. Really worth watching, if only to prove that you should never ever let your host have a quick drinkie or three before filming a TV show.