Brian Blessed’s Absolute Pandemonium: An Autobiography is easily the most fun entertainment we’ve had reading a book since I, Partridge. The name alone should tell you a little bit about what to expect from the book, and his eccentric personality backs it up, but in addition to the bedlam and general maelstrom of madness that surrounds the actor, there’s also a lot of intelligence, emotion, insight and care.
Released on hardback, digital download and audio book on the 8th October October 2015, the autobiography takes us from Brian’s very down-to-earth upbringing in Yorkshire to his modern day legend status via his early acting efforts, breakthrough on Z Cars, first serious film roles, the inevitable Gordon’s alive, Star Wars dream and everything else in between. It’s his sixth book release and while each of them have been about him in one way or another, Absolute Pandemonium is the first and ultimate biography of his life so far.
It’s creation has been unconventional, with Brian free flowing thoughts and anecdotes to a friend and confident, who dutifully took it all down, pretty much verbatim. As a result, what you get is a free flowing dialogue from the man who was Prince Vultan that booms through his life like a howling gale of joviality, wit and unrelenting force. You’ll laugh a lot, cry maybe just a little and love the sweet Barnsley bar steward even more than you did beforehand.
That’s not to say that he’s without his darker side, and although he quite keen to profess to not being a bully, methinks the large lady with the beard and wings doth protest too much. Throwing a dead cat onto a child’s birthday party table, shooting his large-arsed teacher with a catapult and scaring friends with corpse flachulence aren’t exactly the actions of a well meaning Yorkshire lad are they.
Mild retribution-based personality disorders aside, it’s easy to warm to Brian as you read Absolute Pandemonium, and a lot of that is down to the fact that he does come across as being (mostly) well meaning, while still being absolutely enthralling and energetic. While he does go awry here and there, he explains away any transgressions with such a devilmaycare attitude that it’s hard not to forgive him. The fact that all of this comes across so well in book form is testament to unfettered approach to writing that has been taken.
In addition to talking you through all of the things you might already know about the big fellow – his time on Z-Cars in the 1960s, a little of his love for mountaineering and his role in 80s sci-fi classic, Flash Gordon – you also get to find out a hell of a lot more about his life, and what a fabulous one it’s been already. We’re not going to give too much away in terms of the details, you’ll have to read it yourself for that, but there’s a cornucopia of anecdotes, stories and side arcs that covers everything from pit disasters, boxing legends, Peter O’Toole, Katherine Hepburn, Star Wars The Phantom Menace, the Emporor and Empress of Japan and a punch up with Harold Pinter, to name but a few.
The book also gives you a pretty good idea about the efforts you need to go to in order to make your dreams a reality. Obviously talent and confidence are a big part of making it as an actor, but Brian hurls himself at the situation with such gusto that he was never going to be anything but noticed.
Absolute Pandemonium is a fantastic autobiography and it’s been a lot of fun getting to ride along on Brian Blessed’s magical lifelong wonder waltz. We’d heartily recommend going for the audio book option in this case as it’s narrated by Brian himslelf, so you can hear it all in his own, larger-than-life, big, booming voice, which is a joy in itself.
Brian Blessed, Absolute Pandemonium review: 4.5/5