Full-voiced Yorkshire acting veteran Brian Blessed has opened up about a breakdown in his teens which left him silently staring into a fire.
In a Guardian interview, extroverted Flash Gordon star Blessed spoke of being shaken by a local newspaper review.
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His father has previously saved hundreds of coal miners’ lives after a gas leak, but was crushed and left injured in the rescue mission, which according to the article left the family having to make ends meet on sick pay.
Blessed, from Mexborough in South Yorkshire, told interviewer Mark Lawson: “My mother had a complete nervous breakdown.
“I was 12. My dad was in hospital so I had to go along with my mother and sign forms for her to have electro-convulsive therapy.”
The newspaper reports: "At the age of 18, while working on a building site before going to drama school, he had a breakdown of his own.
"His parents found their usually extrovert son staring silently at the fire, thrown by a local newspaper review that accused him of 'overacting'.
"It’s a judgment that now seems funny given the scale of the performances that made him famous, but it devastated the young man.
"At a speech lesson in Rotherham, he collapsed into uncontrollable tears, then passed out. His teacher revived him by singing songs from Shakespeare, while stroking his head with a sponge."
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Blessed said: “It was the only time in my life I’ve experienced a miracle.
“They stopped the storm in my head and cured me. But, in Yorkshire, they used to say of people, ‘That one’s got a tile missing.’
"And all I can say is that, on that day, my tile was put back in place. But I feel I always have to make sure that the tile can’t come loose again.”
Blessed also spoke about the recent, critically-panned film version of Cats after he appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1981 stage production.
He said that he had "no jealousy or resentment about not being in the film. I will see it, but I worry. In the theatre, you can do anything – human beings as cats. But it’s harder on film. But I wish them well with it."
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Blessed was promoting the theatre productions of his daughter Rosalind, whose works the Lullabies for the Lost and The Delights of Dogs, and the Problems of People are at the Old Red Lion, London, until February 1.