Actor Richard Briers dies aged 79
Published 18/02/2013 | 12:51
Richard Briers, known to millions for his enduring role in TV sitcom The Good Life, has died aged 79.
The actor died "peacefully" at his London home on Sunday, his agent said.
Briers, who was also known for his Shakespearean roles, had been battling a serious lung condition for a number of years.
The star will be best remembered for his performance as Tom Good, alongside Felicity Kendal, in the 1970s BBC One sitcom The Good Life about a couple who drop out of the rat race in Surbiton, south west London, to enjoy a life of simple self-sufficiency.
In an interview carried out only a matter of weeks ago, the actor told how his health was failing after being diagnosed with emphysema five years ago, which he attributed to years of smoking, although he gave up 10 years ago.
Although long known for his comedy roles in film and TV, a new strand to his career unfolded when he joined Sir Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, and went on to work on a number of classical roles.
Sir Kenneth said: "He was a national treasure, a great actor and a wonderful man. He was greatly loved and he will be deeply missed."
The Good Life's Penelope Keith called Briers' death "an enormous loss". She said: "I look back with enormous affection and love for Dickie. He was the most talented of actors, always self-deprecating. I learnt an awful lot from him during our time on The Good Life, over those 30 programmes."
Briers's former co-star Prunella Scales said: "He was just a wonderful colleague and a dear friend."
She told BBC Radio 5 Live she would always be "so grateful to him" for encouraging her to read for the part of his wife in Marriage Lines.