LARGER-than-life movie legend Brian Blessed was back on his old stamping ground to meet fans and tell tales of his long and varied career.
The Mexborough-born actor and mountaineer was at Rotherham College’s Wharncliffe restaurant on Friday night before regaling an audience at the nearby Civic Theatre.
The former Rotherham student, who grew up in Bolton-on-Dearne and had elocution lessons in the town centre, went on to find fame in a variety of TV shows and films including Z-Cars, Flash Gordon and, latterly, as Grampy Rabbit in hit kids’ show Peppa Pig.
The evening also raised £7,000 in ticket sales and donations for Phase Worldwide — which helps disadvantaged communities in Nepal — topped up by an “extremely generous” £10,000 donation from a benefactor who asked to remain anonymous.
Charity founder Nick Cragg said: “Brian had said as patron of the charity that he wanted to do something for us and this is what we came up with.
“Brian was great — he was non-stop from the moment he arrived to the time he left.
“He’s exceptionally engaging and was really interested in the people who had come to see him, as well as the kids who provided the front and back of house services.
“One boy had bought a book for Brian to sign but was unable to leave his station. When Brian heard about this, he has written a lovely message in the book.”
The Civic Theatre section of the sell-out event was “a real rollercoaster”, said Mr Cragg, relating how attempts to make him leave the stage for an interval — including one involving a giant hook — fell flat.
The An Audience With... show saw Brian being interviewed on stage TV news reporter Tom Ingall, reading a poignant poem he dedicated to his late friend Patrick Moore and even bursting into song.
Mr Cragg added: “People enjoyed themselves greatly but more importantly, they went aware with a greater awareness of what we do and how empowering it is for the people in this country who have got involved.”