The veteran actor Brian Blessed may be famous for having a big heart, extremely booming voice and a penchant for scaling large mountains, but he can add to those attributes the title of "Comeback King", after his latest trials and tribulations. Currently playing King Lear in a stage production in Guildford, the 78-year-old thespian was observed to faint while on stage on Monday night at the Holy Trinity Church and fall off a platform he was standing on.

Blessed's co-star for the night Noel White calmly addressed the audience to assuage their fears, but to also ask if there was a doctor available in the building.

With the larger-than-life actor having had a small operation to his heart three years ago and currently having a slightly irregular heartbeat, there were fears that his health could have been further impaired. Yet, much to the amazement of the assembled crowd, Blessed returned after around twenty minutes to not only apologise for the interruption to the night's performance, but to also proceed to continue and finish the demanding part.

In the interim period, he had been assessed and looked after by a surgeon who was watching the show and given the all clear to continue. That he did, as he ensured that there was no short-changing of the audience in their viewing of the famous Shakespearean tragedy, that at one moment during the night had seemed like it might take on very real connotations.

Neither has it stopped the Yorkshireman from continuing his part during the week, as he suffered no issues during the performance on Tuesday and is expected to finish the rest of the run which is already a sell-out.

Blessed has starred in a variety of screen and stage roles during a long career, including a major part in the 1960s police series Z-Cars, appearing in the epic serial I,Claudius and having a leading role in the comic-book film homage Flash Gordon.

He also took a major role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats in the original West End production, besides starring in numerous other Shakespearean roles on both stage and screen.

In recent years he has continued to work in the pursuit of his art and shows little willingness to call time on his acting career. The director of the company for his latest role echoed that view as Caroline Devlin said that he "is a 20-year-old in a 78-year-old's body", in response to his latest escapades and what pushed him on to return after collapsing to finish the play.