Actor Richard Briers, best known for his role in TV’s The Good Life, has died at the age of 79, his agent has said.
The star, who was also an accomplished stage actor, had been battling a serious lung condition for several years.
Briers died “peacefully” at his London home on Sunday, his agent said. Briers recently said years of smoking had been to blame for his emphysema.
Famed for his role as the hapless Tom Good in the 1970s BBC sitcom The Good Life, Briers also starred in shows such as Ever Decreasing Circles, Monarch Of The Glen and Doctor Who.
He also appeared in many films, most recently in British comedy film Cockneys versus Zombies, plus a cameo role in Run For Your Wife, based on Ray Cooney’s 1980s stage farce.
Briers also provided the voice for the character of Fiver in the animated feature Watership Down (1978).
After a long career in popular television, Briers joined Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, and his career moved on to major classical roles.
He said at the time: “Ken offered me Malvolio in his production of Twelfth Night at the very time I had decided to expand my career when I realised I had gone as far as I could doing sitcoms. As soon as I worked with him, I thought he was truly exceptional.”
After playing Malvolio, Briers took on the acting challenge of King Lear, followed by the title role in Uncle Vanya and Menenius in Coriolanus.
On film Branagh cast him as Bardolph in Henry V (1989), as Stephen Fry’s father in the comedy Peter’s Friends (1992), Don Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), the blind grandfather in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994).
Briers was born in London on 14 January, 1934 and was inspired to be an actor by his mother, a music and drama teacher.
He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and won a scholarship to Liverpool Playhouse in 1956. Two years later he made his first West End appearance in Gilt And Gingerbread.
His big screen career began with the British features Bottoms Up (1960), Murder She Said (1961), The Girl On The Boat and A Matter of Who (both 1962) and the multi-national The VIPs (1963), followed by Raquel Welch’s spy spoof Fathom (1967).
He was awarded the OBE in 1989 for services to the arts. Briers married the actress Anne Davies in 1956. They had two daughters.