Much-loved TV and Shakespearean actor Richard Briers has died aged 79. He died peacefully at home after suffering from a chronic lung complaint for a number of years.
Born in Surrey in 1934, Briers became a living room staple thanks to a long-standing stint in the BBC’s The Good Life, in which he played cantankerous Tom Good to Felicity Kendal’s Barbara from 1975 to 1978, but his profile had already been established thanks to a successful career as a stage and TV actor.
Encouraged by his mother’s career as a drama teacher, as a teenager Briers made his way into RADA via stints as a filing clerk and national service in the RAF. From there he made a name for himself on stage doing repertory theatre in Liverpool and Coventry. His performances in West End productions caught the eye of TV producers who cast him in Marriage Lines and Brothers In Law.
Other television work saw Briers' endearing and occasionally scratchy on-screen persona light up Ever Decreasing Circles and Monarch Of The Glen. On the big screen, meanwhile, his lifelong passion for Shakespeare parlayed into turns in Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Love’s Labour’s Lost and As You Like It. There were also smaller roles in Peter’s Friends, Spice World and Run For Your Wife, as well as a turn as a wonderfully badass OAP in last year’s underrated Cockneys Vs Zombies.
Briers, who was awarded an OBE in 1989, is survived by his wife Anne Davies and two daughters.