Brian Blessed collapsed during a performance of King Lear, before triumphantly returning to complete the play.
The 78 year old had only just delivered his opening lines when he apparently fainted, falling from a platform and to lie sprawled on his back.
Fellow actor Noel White was forced to announce “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not part of the play. Is there a doctor in the house?” The audience and cast members including Blessed’s daughter Rosalind, who plays the king’s on-stage offspring Goneril, applauded as the actor was lead off stage.
Nevertheless after a cup of sweet tea Blessed returned, telling the audience “I feel such an idiot and am not in the habit of doing this, but I have a little fibrillation.”
Blessed went on to finish the play, although not without some difficulty. Daily Mail critic Quinten Letts, who was at Monday’s performance in Guildford, noted that his health worries often blended with those of his character as the actor suffered “waves of dizziness and such shortness of breath that he rolled his eyes and occasionally clutched his chest.”
By the time of the final curtain call, several cast members were in tears, but Blessed simply patted his heart and gave a thumbs up.
Proof, if proof were needed, that despite his age Blessed remains one of the toughest thespians out there.