THE first time I encountered actor, adventurer and raconteur Brian Blessed in the flesh was in a rather genteel tea-room. I was interviewing him about climbing Everest without oxygen. Big bearded Brian, who had brought along Mallory’s ice -axe for emphasis, was holding forth in full booming gusto and punctuating every other sentence with a colourful torrent of four-letter words.

To be honest this show seemed like an identical experience.The only things that were missing were shocked little old ladies, rattling tea-cups and the famous ice-axe which was notable by its absence. In other words with Brian Blessed what you see is what you get. He may be an actor but he’s the genuine article.

He claims to be ‘completely mad” but in fact he’s a loveable, over-the-top eccentric with some extraordinary tales to tell and the packed audience at Lighthouse hung on his every word. We got his beloved mountains of course including a graphic description of the horrors of doing a poo in the high Himalayas - the Queen’s favourite story apparently.

We heard about his ambition to journey into space. He’s done 800 hours of cosmonaut training in Russia just in case they want him to join a mission to Mars. That might seem a bit of a stretch at the age of 82 but as Brian says he never intends to die, maybe not.

He also regaled us with stories of his Yorkshire upbringing, his extraordinary 60 year acting career and encounters with actors like Patrick Stewart (a friend since childhood) and Peter O’Toole, Kenneth Branagh, Richard Briers and many others.

He talked about Z Cars, Cats, Star Wars, Flash Gordon of course and how he once leapt out of a cupboard to terrify Sir John Gielgud. Just in case anyone might leave the theatre feeling short-changed he had cheerily bellowed “Gordon’s alive” multiple times within minutes of hitting the stage. It obviously did the trick. He bowed out two hours later to a standing ovation.