If you were really down on your luck, and found yourself trapped in a cinema watching Dungeons & Dragons at some stage over the past week, you would have noticed one of the few bright sparks in that lamentable production was the multi-talented Richard O'Brien. O'Brien - who must be wishing for a change in fortune after agreeing to appear in such a stinker - was born Richard Timothy Smith on March 25, 1942, in Cheltenham, England. Keen to escape post-war England, his family bolted for the quieter surrounds of New Zealand when the lad was 10, making their home on a farm in Taraunga. By 15, however, O'Brien (above with actress Pat Quinn) decided the bucolic life was not for him, nor was school for that matter, and he moved to Hamilton to seek work. After drifting from job to job for the next seven years, O'Brien drifted back to Britain. He tried his hand at truck driving and even hairdressing, but then found his way into show business, thanks to horse-riding skills developed back in the Land of the Long White Cloud. O'Brien worked as a stuntman on such glamorous productions as Carry On Cowboy, but felt that rough-and-ready existence was not for him. So he took acting classes, adopted his grandfather's last name, and took on any role that came his way. That brought him to the touring cast of Hair in 1969 (where he befriended Tim Curry), and Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Jim Sharman. Sharman would later give O'Brien roles in stage productions of The Unseen Hand and The Tooth Of Crime and, more importantly, help him with his song writing, a talent he unearthed with his first wife Kimi Wong. O'Brien had already penned a few tunes, including Eddie and Science Fiction, and had the outline of a script for a musical. Sharman urged him to finish the thing, which O'Brien did in six months. The Rocky Horror Show went on to become a worldwide smash; it ran for two years in its first season at the Theatre Upstairs and has been through countless re-runs and tours ever since. The film version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, didn't fare so well on release but eventually became a cult classic, and led O'Brien into movies. He has had a steady, if unspectacular, film career since, finding more success in theatre and television, where he was host of the popular The Crystal Maze from 1991-94.