Richard Briers, the actor best known for playing self-sufficiency enthusiast Tom Good in BBC sitcom The Good Life, has died aged 79.
The star’s agent confirmed today that he had passed away on Sunday following a long battle with emphysema.
Born in London in 1934, Briers began acting after completing national service in the RAF. On the advice of his father’s cousin – the gap-toothed comedy actor Terry-Thomas – Briers went on to study for two years at Rada before winning a scholarship with the Liverpool Playhouse.
He made his West End debut in 1959 and began acting on television two years later, playing the lead role in the BBC sitcom Marriage Lines opposite Prunella Scales.
Following appearances in other popular programmes such as Dixon of Dock Green and the Morecambe & Wise show, in 1975 Briers was cast as Tom Good in The Good Life, a role written with him in mind.
His chemistry with onscreen wife Felicity Kendal and entertaining baddenage with next door neighbours Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington were highlights of the show, which ran for three series and filmed its final episode in 1978 in front of the Queen.
Briers made use of his distinctive voice as the narrator of the ‘70s children’s cartoon series Roobarb & Custard, as well as the rabbit Fiver in animated feature film Watership Down.
Other notable roles included that of obsessive suburbanite Martin Bryce in 1980s BBC1 sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles and, from 2000, Hector MacDonald in Monarch of the Glen, a part he would play for five years.
Briers was awarded a CBE in 2003 and, more recently, made appearances in New Tricks, Torchwood and Holby City. The last film in which he featured – a big-screen adaptation of Ray Cooney’s Run for Your Wife – opened in British cinemas last week.
At the end of January, Briers spoke publicly about his struggle with emphysema, lamenting the fact that his life-long smoking habit had brought about the chronic lung disease.
Briers is survived by his wife Ann and daughters Lucy and Katie.