Briers’ breakthrough was as the lead in BBC comedy Marriage Lines, opposite Prunella Scales. The show followed newlyweds George and Kate Starling as they attempted to get to grips with married life and start a family. Marriage Lines ran for five series and was later adapted into a radio play.
Briers’ turn as boyish rogue Tom Good in classic BBC sitcom The Good Life is the one he’ll remain best known for. His chemistry with onscreen wife Felicity Kendal was matched by a playful frisson with Penelope Keith’s high-maintenance next door neighbour Margo Leadbetter.
Set in Surbiton, The Good Life followed Tom and Barbara Good as they quit the rat race to turn their suburban house and garden into a self-sufficient smallholding. The series starts on Tom’s 40th birthday when he decides to pack in his job.
Briers narrated cult 70s cartoon Roobarb, about the eponymous green dog and his pink feline rival, Custard. Roughly drawn with marker pens in Bob Godfrey’s inimitable style, it was the first fully animated British series and proved hugely popular during the 1970s, returning for a new series in 2005.
Ever Decreasing Circles (1984-1989)
Briers played Martin Bryce, an obsessive middle-aged man at the centre of his community – until his new neighbour, Paul (Peter Egan), arrived to make waves in his small suburban pond. Penelope Wilton was Martin’s long-suffering but patient wife, Ann, who put up with him for four series.
If You See God, Tell Him (1993)
This brilliantly black BBC1 comedy passed many people by but it’s a bizarre little gem. Briers is Godfrey Spry, whose life is transformed after he is hit on the head by falling rubble. Now with just a 30-second attention span, Godfrey finds himself believing in and repeating everything he’s told by TV ads – and is all the happier for it. Even the horrible demise of his wife (“stoned to death by a mob of drunken soccer fans” we’re told) is not enough to quash his newfound upbeat outlook on life. Adrian Edmonson and Imelda Staunton starred as Godfrey’s nephew and niece.
Briers played Scottish eccentric Hector in Sunday teatime treat Monarch of the Glen. The drama – which also starred Downton Abbey writer-to-be Julian Fellowes, as well as Alastair Mackenzie, Dawn Steele and Susan Hampshire – followed Archie, Hector’s son, who was forced return to his childhood home to look after his inherited estate, Glenbogle. Hector appeared in the first three series – before accidentally blowing himself up in a fishing accident…
Ellie is an entertainment, TV and film journalist writing news and (hopefully incredibly witty) comment for RadioTimes.com. She loves light-hearted dramas and glossy US series - and is more than a little bit obsessed with Downton Abbey. Foodie, sun-seeker and aspiring novelist in her own time. Likes the fact that her name rhymes with telly.