Brian Blessed

Hefty, incisive character player, often bearded, an able roisterer who has mastered a pleasing variety of stalwart sidekicks, blustery authority figures and scheming rapscallions. After repertory experience which doubtless helped develop his booming, distinctive line delivery, Blessed gained fame when he joined the cast of British TV's gritty, long-running police drama, "Z Cars." Although that series would remain among Blessed's best-known work in his native land, his performances only began to garner notice in the U.S. later in the 1970s. His most fondly remembered work in this country may still be his ripely played Caesar Augustus, by turns commanding, villainous, hilarious and touching, in the acclaimed historical miniseries "I, Claudius" (1977-78). Blessed did, however, also delight as the hero's kingly father in the uproarious English comedy series, "Blackadder."