My Secret Life: Brian Blessed, 76, actor

'I do love silk underwear'

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The Independent Online

My parents were… working class. My father was a coal hewer, he did the hardest work in the mines, 2,500ft down, 17 tonnes a day with his bare hands.

The household I grew up in… was rather like an Ovaltine advert. There was a huge fire, a kettle on the fire, the oven with the bread being baked every day, and there was the radio; it was very magical to hear all these wonderful programmes.

When I was a child I wanted to… go into space! To go to Mars. I wanted to explore and explore and explore. I wanted to go to the Lost World in South America – I was heartbroken to discover there were no dinosaurs; I still don't accept it.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at… I'm a master plasterer. I had to leave school at 14 when my father was crushed in the coal mines, and I became a plasterer. It's a great art.

At night I dream of… I have marvellous dreams! I meet Buddha, I meet Jesus, I meet Mohammed. I constantly dream of space, stars and planets: we are the children of stardust.

What I see when I look in the mirror… Someone who is adjusting their clothing.

My favourite item of clothing… I do love silk underwear. It's the warmest and it doesn't chafe. It keeps my privates warm; it's the first line of defence against the extreme cold. I do use a bit of Savlon in the areas that chafe, too.

My house is… a cottage villa, covered in growths, it's full of bushes and shrubs – I love gardening. There are huge Buddhas hidden in the bushes. The birds come into the kitchen, and the other day I had to get the bloody Shetland pony out – it crapped all over the kitchen, it was eating all the dog food.

My favourite work of art… My dream is to own a Hockney – I'm a Yorkshireman, and his vibrant colours are a good example of how the north-country people are vibrant and colourful.

My favourite building… The Acropolis in Athens.

Movie heaven… The finest film I've ever seen is the Russian War and Peace by Bondarchuk – you see that on a big screen and nothing else touches it.

The person who really makes me laugh… Paul O'Grady.

The last time I cried… Watching the Paralympians. They've changed the surface of the earth. They've given hope to everyone and everything.

My five-year plan… is to climb Everest without oxygen. I'll be the oldest man to do it. It will show that everything is possible.

What's the point? Adventure is the key to this millennium. If we stop taking risks, we die, and I can't do that.

A life in brief

Brian Blessed was born in 1936 in Mexborough, Yorkshire. He left school at the age of 14 and worked as a plasterer and undertaker before training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He has played a variety of memorable parts on stage, television and in film and is best known for his Shakespearean acting and comic roles in films like Flash Gordon and the Blackadder TV series. He is also a keen mountaineer. He lives in Chobham, Surrey with his wife Hildegarde Neil, with whom he has a daughter, Rosalind.

"Brian Blessed is currently working with phone and broadband supplier Plusnet,"