Brian Blessed forced to cancel King Lear show due to heart condition

Brian Blessed.
Brian Blessed.

Mexborough-born acting legend Brian Blessed has been forced to withdraw from a stage production of King Lear after a heart problem proved more serious than first thought.

The larger than life star, known for his booming voice, collapsed on stage in Guildford last week while performing in King Lear.

He later returned to the stage to finish his performance after telling the audience he had a “little fibrilation.”

But the star, 78, has now withdrawn from the production at at Holy Trinity Church.

In a statement, his agent said: “Mr Blessed’s heart condition is more serious than he was aware. Brian has therefore been compelled to withdraw from the production of which he is so proud. He is immensely grateful for the support he has received from Guildford Shakespeare Company.”

The sold-out production marked Blessed’s first stage performance as Lear – and the first time he has appeared on stage opposite his daughter Rosalind (playing Goneril). Terence Wilton, who recently starred in James Dacre’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, will take over the lead role.

Known for his booming voice and gregarious manner, Blessed found fame in BBC TV series Z-Cars and later went on to star in Flash Gordon and Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing.

He was born the son of William Blessed, a socialist coal-miner at Hickleton Main at Montagu Hospital in Mexborough.

He attended Bolton on Dearne Secondary Modern School, but was forced to leave at the age of 15 after his father suffered an industrial accident. He then spent several years working in a number of jobs, ranging from an undertaker to a plasterer’s assistant before moving into acting.