British actor Brian Blessed has been forced to withdraw from his starring role in a production of ‘King Lear’, having collapsed on-stage during a performance a couple of weeks ago.

The 78 year old actor collapsed during the January 19th performance at Guildford's Holy Trinity Church after delivering only a couple of lines before fainting and falling off a raised platform. He was treated off-stage and bravely returned just twenty minutes later to complete the rest of the epic tragedy.

Brian Blessed
Brian Blessed has been forced to cancel his 'King Lear' performances due to a heart condition

In a statement on Friday, his agent said: “Mr Blessed’s heart condition is more serious than he was aware. Brian has therefore been compelled to withdraw from the production of which he is so proud. He is immensely grateful for the support he has received from Guildford Shakespeare Company.”

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The GSC also made a statement via its Facebook page, and its producer Matt Pinches said: “Our warmest and sincerest thoughts are with Brian and his family. It has been an absolute honour to work with such a great talent, and we wish him all the very best for the speediest of recoveries.”

The production, which opened on January 17th, was entirely sold-out and marked Blessed’s first stage performance as Lear. It was also the first time that he had appeared in the same play as his daughter Rosalind, who plays Goneril.

He is notorious for his enormous voice, and has acting credits for cult favourites like Flash Gordon and blockbusters such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Blessed’s understudy Terence Wilton, who recently appeared in a production of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, will take his place for the rest of the run, which lasts until February 14th.

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