Brian Blessed has been forced to withdraw from King Lear
Brian Blessed has been forced to withdraw from King Lear
© Guildford Shakespeare Company

Brian Blessed has been forced to withdraw from the production of King Lear in which he was playing the title role due to ill health.

Blessed, who collapsed during one of the early peformances of the show, has been advised by his doctor not to continue in the role.

A statement from his agent said: "Mr Blessed's heart condition is more serious than he was aware. On the advice of his specialist, and with a broken heart, 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 The Guildford Shakespeare Company."

Blessed was marking two firsts with the role; his first time playing the Shakespearean protagonist, and the first time acting with his daughter Rosalind Blessed, who is playing Goneril.

The role of King Lear has been taken over by Terence Wilton, a regular with the RSC and at the National and Open Air Theatres. He was recently seen as Big Daddy in James Dacre's Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at Manchester's Royal Exchange.

King Lear is playing at the Holy Trinity Church in Guildford until 14 February.