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5 mins with ... Brian Blessed Big man, LOUD voice; Brian Blessed was born in South Yorkshire in 1936. He''s famous for his roles in Z Cars, I, Claudius and Flash Gordon. He''s also an adventurer. Here he discusses his latest plans - including a trip to the international space station - and new Disney Junior animation Henry Hugglemonster.

What can you tell us about Henry Hugglemonster? It's based on a book by Niamh Sharkey called I'm A Happy Hugglewug. My character is called Eduardo Enormomonster.

I tell you what I feel about it - I love children's stuff. I used to go to the cinema as a child and I adored Disney films, they were always magical. Fantasia was absolutely amazing.

You've worked with Disney before, haven't you? I always wanted to work with Disney. I did a series for television called Return To Treasure Island, playing Long John Silver, and then I worked with them on Tarzan, the lovely animated film, playing the villain, Clayton. I've even met Roy Disney. What is it about the Hugglemonsters that you found so appealing? This embraces storytelling, friendship, everyday situations and community relationships. We need monssters. I don't mean horrible ones, I mean beautiful monsters. I missed the dinosaurs and I'm so very sad about that. They're a part of our psyche, we adore them, and these will be adored and loved because they're positive. They're full of family, full of team work and full of soul.

You seem to do a lot of voiceover work these days I do. But I think my biggest love is doing children's programmes because they're of the greatest importance. And, of course, I learn from children. They're doing these wonderful productions in schools of Cats at the moment. I was in the original cast as Old Deutoronomy, so I've been inspiring and helping about a dozen productions all over the country. I love working with children. I love fascinating them, using my voice and my imagination to stir them up. Are there any characters you'd still like to play? Yes, WG Grace. He was the man who really developed cricket, he was the greatest cricketer of all time, a man with a great beard. He was a doctor, and they built railways to get him to grounds - he was an astonishing character. He was king of crown green bowling, he was the king of hockey, and he was captain of the British golf team, as well as captain of the England cricket team. So it's an amazing story.

Having you play him would be excellent casting Yes, I look exactly like him! Do you have any adventures lined up? Patrick Stewart (Mirfield-born fellow Yorkshireman) is my dearest friend, like a younger brother. He's always frightened, whenever I see him, that I'm going to die - "You're going to die on Mount Everest! You're going to die on these mountains!" But I've just completed space training in Moscow, and I'm now first reserve to go to the international space station. I'll be going there in the autumn, in the Soyuz rocket. I'm also going to Everest in the spring.

You're a famous animal lover too...

My wife runs an animal sanctuary with dogs, cats and ponies, and I employ about seven people to look after them - all my money goes on that and vets! I've been president of The Council for National Parks for seven years, and I do an awful lot with the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

You're obviously a very busy man The day never stops! I try to get as much peace and rest as I can. But I don't get to Yorkshire enough, which I know is God's own country and I must get up there soon. My favourite place is Top Withens, the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, at Haworth. If you could be remembered for one role, what would it be? The problem is, I'm so popular throughout the world as Vultan in Flash Gordon, and I do adore that, but it's not my best performance. I think that would be Augustus Caesar in I, Claudius; I got about seven different awards for it. That was the most demanding one.

That was our last question Brian, thanks for talking to us Brilliant! It's going to be a marvellous series! I'm really very excited about it. Henry Hugglemonster is going to be a sensational children's series, and it's going to make a lot of children very happy.

? Henry Hugglemonster airs on Disney Junior at 5.50pm every Friday


| YORKSHIRE BORN AND BRED: Brian Blessed who stars in the Disney Junior show Henry Hugglemonster
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 9, 2013
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