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Brian Blessed was almost the Doctor! Maybe twice!

August 6th, 2014 (10:42 am)

Veteran performer Brian Blessed has told the Radio Times this week that he was offered the lead role in Doctor Who after he finished his run in Z Cars at the end of 1965. If this is not a drastic misremembering of the negotiations in the early 1990s revealed in issue 3 of Richard Bignell's Nothing at the End of the Lane, which would have seen Blessed succeeding Sylvester McCoy in the first instalment of an independently-produced Doctor Who series, then this means Blessed was sounded out twice at different stages of his career, once when he was best-known as bluff but sometimes naive 'ted in a copper's uniform' PC 'Fancy' Smith in Z Cars, and once when his larger-than-life persona known from Vultan in Flash Gordon and Richard IV in The Black Adder was more fully realised. Intriguingly, if the dates are right, the earlier offer might have been made in the early stages of attempts to replace William Hartnell, when John Wiles was still producer of Doctor Who and not Innes Lloyd, when it was intended that Hartnell's last story would be The Celestial Toymaker. Imagine Blessed dealing with 'Mr Wearp' in The Gunfighters, or probably fighting off Doc Holliday in the dentist's chair...

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/2014/08/06/brian-blessed-was-almost-the-doctor-maybe-twice.html.


Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: August 6th, 2014 12:46 pm (UTC)

Perhaps this is a failure of the imagination on my part, but I really can't see Blessed as the Doctor, even in 1965. I've seen a couple of Avengers episodes from that period where he is beginning to develop his loud persona, but he basically plays thugs (a criminal disguised as an army sergeant and a former commando). By the 1990s I can only think of him as Yrcanos.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 6th, 2014 01:27 pm (UTC)

I've seen his Mark of Cornwall from Arthur of the Britons in the early 1970s and that's well on the way to being the 'loud' Blessed; though John 'Aztecs' Crockett directed Blessed in a play in 1960 or so and a reviewer thought Crockett unable to control him then. I don't think he would have been as appropriate a successor as Troughton.

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: August 6th, 2014 07:07 pm (UTC)

I am rather baffled at the idea of anyone controlling Brian Blessed ...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 6th, 2014 07:43 pm (UTC)

I think that only the Z Cars team managed to manage him...

Posted by: tigerfort (tigerfort)
Posted at: August 7th, 2014 09:13 pm (UTC)

He displayed some gratifying moments of subtlety in the BBC "I, Claudius", and the ability to go from quiet polite questioning to full-on BRIAN BLESSED in one sentence is one that sits well with (Graves' interpretation of) the behaviour of certain Roman Emperors.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 7th, 2014 10:36 pm (UTC)

Agreed - how could I forget I Claudius? (Very easily, it seems.)