BRIAN Blessed, he of the booming voice, likes to designate periods of silence in his daily routine.

Not that you can expect too much hush in the larger-than-life South Yorkshire actor, writer, presenter and adventurer's chat show, as he reflects on his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television and more besides in the life of Brian at the Grand Opera House, York, on September 3.

Now 82, An Evening With Brian Blessed will be Brian's first stage appearance in York. "I would say it's about time," he says, phoning in from his home in Surrey. "I'm a Yorkshireman; I've performed in Yorkshire and Yorkshire is very dear to me."

Without breaking stride, Brian continues: "Apparently York University has a Brian Blessed Quiet Room: how delightful."

It may have been an ironic gesture when the University of York students' union passed a mandate in January 2011 for a study space to be re-crowned the Brian Blessed Centre for Quiet Study, but Blessed's good friend Kenneth Branagh is on record as saying "he's the quietest man I've ever met".

"I've always said my biggest joy in life is quiet and meditation," says Brian, before launching into his further thoughts on York and Yorkshire.

"York is so full of history, and I've often done voiceovers at the Jorvik Viking Centre. I remember seeing Mallard [the world speed record-holding Pacific steam locomotive built at Doncaster Works in 1938] for the first time as a child, when my legs went weak.

"I lived near Mexborough, in Goldthorpe ¬- a mining village - where the trains would pass by our home in Probert Avenue, which was so exciting, but then later seeing trains 'lying dead' at Carnforth, like a beached whale, was so sad."

The son of a miner at Hickleton Main, who played cricket for the Yorkshire 2nd XI at weekends as a fast bowler, Brian was drawn to performing on stage rather than the sports field from a young age.

He recalls miners doing amateur theatre shows, opera and musicals. "There wasn't one who couldn't spout a Shakespeare speech," he says. "The whole area was vibrating with people who could sing and act. It felt like the centre of the Earth to me."

Brian and a certain Patrick Stewart, from a nearby village, would attend drama courses at weekends and perform in the Mystery Plays and Shakespeare seasons at Mytholmroyd in the Calder Valley.

"We learnt so much and we dreamt of being professional, but it was impossible to go to drama school without getting a scholarship," he recalls.

"But I joined the Mexborough Theatre Guild at 15, playing Heathcliff and winning the Best Actor in South Yorkshire award, and everybody encouraged me to apply for an interview for a scholarship to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School."

He duly won a two-year scholarship, setting in motion a career that initially took him to Nottingham Playhouse and the Birmingham Rep, playing King Lear at 22/23, and onwards to the BBC television series Z-Cars, appearing as PC "Fancy" Smith in 115 episodes from 1962 to 1978.

On screen, he has starred in everything from Doctor Who and Flash Gordon to Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare films. On stage, his credits range from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. His trademark stentorian voice has been put to myriad tasks, from voicing the Peppa Pig character Grampy Rabbit to being a voice download on TomTom’s sat-nav system.

"I was in the C class at secondary school, but I ended up almost being appointed Chancellor of Cambridge, just losing out to Lord Sainsbury in 2011," he says with pride.

Brian served as president of the Council for National Parks for seven years, up to 2007, and his love of the great outdoors, whether climbing mountains or the British countryside, has shaped his life's path, as much as his stage and screen career.

"I'm sick of Brexit," he says, out of the blue. "Our National Parks are a huge success story. We're doing wonderful things in Britain. There's nothing to be alarmed about. We're going to make it."

Away from Britain, his love of exploring and mountaineering has led Brian to climb Everest three times without oxygen, undertake an expedition to the jungles of Venezuela and become the oldest man to go to the North Pole on foot.

"But my biggest love is space," he says. "I'm a fully trained cosmonaut. I trained with NASA and at Space City in Moscow, testing prototype suits with lots of mountaineers and microbiologists on Reunion Island.

"To help the space programme, about seven years ago, we filmed on this volcanic island, simulating climbing the highest mountain on Mars, Olympus Mons."

Brian says with utter conviction: "I will go into space...because I truly believe we are children of stardust and we can't keep remaining in the cradle. We have to go out there.

"I meet thousands of children at the National Space Centre at Leicester and they all want to go into space.

"I don't see barriers. I have great belief that you must fulfil your dreams, you must go for it; don't let them grind you down. We all have special gifts guarded by a guardian angel, and we must each strive to fulfil our ambitions."

The best advice Brian took came from Sir John Hunt, leader of the successful 1953 British expedition to Mount Everest. "He said, 'the greatest danger in life is not taking the adventure'. All kinds of things in life can be your Everest, but take the adventure," he urges.

Please note, An Evening With Brian Blessed “may not be suitable for people of a nervous disposition", or so the publicity says. "That's publicity nonsense," he retorts. "I'm not going to make anyone nervous. I'm going to make them happy!"

An Evening With Brian Blessed, Grand Opera House, York, September 3, 7.30pm. Tickets: £26.25 upwards on 0844 871 3024 or at

Charles Hutchinson