Brian Blessed has always been a devilish storyteller, but this true tale of how he thought he’d killed Peter Capaldi is our new all-time favourite.
When asked what the sci-fi veteran thought of the latest Doctor Who, Blessed leaned in and whispered (yes, he is capable of whispering): “I always shudder a little bit when I think of Peter Capaldi. Do you know why?”
No? Well settle in for a time-bendingly good anecdote.
“I was in The History of Tom Jones, the BBC serial, as wild squire Mr Western,” Blessed boomed. “He’s a great character lead, who loves Tom Jones and fights everybody.
“Peter Capaldi played a fop with a sword, and at the end of the series I shoot him. He says to me, ‘Now, I have you. Take out your sword, sir.’ And I just take out my gun and shoot him like Indiana Jones!
“But,” and now it’s our turn to lean in, “prior to that there’s a scene in which he challenges me and hits me across the face with a glove. My character is meant to turn round, give him a left hook and flatten him.
“We thought we’d done the shot from all angles, but they said they’d do one more. This time I threw the punch, and – oh – I pulled it! For no reason Peter Capaldi had put his face forward, and I caught him in the face!
“He went flat on his back, his legs went up in the air, his arms went up, and I thought, ‘He’s in the death rattle!’ I shouted, ‘He’s down! I think he’s dying!’
“They quickly got an ambulance and took him to hospital, but they wouldn’t attend him for a while because they thought he was in drag! He was still dressed as a fop with a beauty spot.
“He was alright, but he did had a cut above his eye. They brought him round and he didn’t have brain damage or anything like that. I felt so embarrassed, but it was his fault I promise you.
“After about three days he phoned from the hospital.” At this point Blessed puts on a faint Scottish accent: “‘Hello, it’s Peter here. I know you feel embarrassed Brian, it was my fault.’
“So whenever someone mentions Peter Capaldi I’m bloody glad he’s still alive! I thought I’d killed the poor bastard.”
Brian Blessed as the new Doctor?
As if that tale wasn’t good enough, Blessed also went on to explain how he turned down the chance to be the next Doctor Who after William Hartnell.
That’s right, Prince Vultan could have travelled on the Tardis! (technically Flash Gordon came well after this point, but this is an Adventure in Space and Time, so who’s checking?).
Blessed takes up the story: “I was 25 or 26 at the time. Executive producer Andrew Osborn took me for a walk. Z Cars was coming to an end, as was William Hartnell on Doctor Who.
“Osborn said, ‘We’d actually like you to be a young Doctor Who.’ I said, ‘Well, I see him as a wizard and much older really.’ And he replied, ‘Well we’d like him to be very young and very virile, full of imagination and so forth.’”
“I said, ‘Well I’d really consider it if you could think of him as being oriental. I’ve always thought that he should be oriental.’
“Eventually he came back, saying: ‘We’ve thought about it; we’re not going to go ahead with the young Doctor. We think it is actually too much. We’re going to offer you Porthos in The Three Musketeers.’ So I did that instead alongside Jeremy Brett, the original Sherlock Holmes.”
Did you hear that? Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, The Three Musketeers AND Sherlock Holmes in the same story! Brian is truly Blessed.