Actor Richard Briers dies aged 79
Actor Richard Briers, known to millions for his enduring role in TV sitcom The Good Life, has died at the age of 79.
The star, who was also known for his Shakespearean roles, had been battling a serious lung condition for a number of years.
Briers, who also starred in shows such as Ever Decreasing Circles and Monarch Of The Glen, recently said years of smoking had been to blame for his emphysema. He died "peacefully" at his London home on Sunday, said his agent.
Briers will be best remembered for his performance as Tom Good, alongside Felicity Kendal, in the 1970s BBC1 sitcom The Good Life about a couple who drop out of the rat race in Surbiton, south-west London, to enjoy a life of self-sufficiency. It also starred Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington, who died in 1995.
Keith called Briers' death "an enormous loss". She told the Press Association: "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.
"He was a wonderful mentor, tutor and teacher although that would suggest he imposed himself on you, which he didn't. He was always courteous and he would speak to the crew - which was not always that common. And he was always nervous. It was the most enjoyable time - when I think of The Good Life, I smile."
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. I was diagnosed five years ago and didn't think it would go quite as badly as it has. It's a bugger, but there it is. I used to love smoking.
"It's totally my fault. So, I get very breathless, which is a pain in the backside. Trying to get upstairs... oh God, it's ridiculous. Of course, when you're bloody nearly 80 it's depressing, because you've had it anyway."
His varied career saw him narrating the 1970s children's cartoon series Roobarb And Custard, as well as adding his voice to the animated version of Watership Down. 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.
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."