Richard Briers CBE died peacefully at his London home on 17th February the age of 79, his agent announced this morning. The actor had been suffering from emphysema as a result of a life long addiction to smoking.
Born in Raynes Park in South West London, Richard Briers was the second cousin of fondly-remembered comedy actor Terry-Thomas. During his National Service in the RAF, Briers met actor Brian (George and Mildred) Murphy who introduced him to the dramatic society at the Borough Polytechnic Institute. He studied at RADA between 1954 and 1956 and eventually found his way onto TV in the classic sitcom Marriage Lines (1961-66) with Prunella Scales and regular TV and stage appearances throughout he 1960s and 1970s followed. In 1975 he starred in the BBC sitcom The Good Life with Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington and between 1984 - 1989 as busybody Martyn Bryce in BBC1’s comedy Ever Decreasing Circles. Richard Briers worked consistently on stage and TV throughout the 1980s and 1990s appearing in shows as diverse as Lovejoy, Inspector Morse, New Tricks, Kingdom and a regular role in BBC Sunday night drama Monarch of the Glen from 2000 to 2002. In 1987 he appeared as the Hitler-esque Caretaker in the Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who serial ‘Paradise Towers’ and in 2008 he appeared in Torchwood’s ‘A Day in the Death’ in which he played a dying bed-ridden recluse. Briers was also a member of Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company and he enjoyed great acclaim in many of Branagh’s Shakepearean film adaptations including Henry V, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. He received the OBE in 1989 and the CBE in 2003.
Ill-health slowed down Richard Briers’ career in later years but as recently as last year he appeared as a machine-gun blazing pensioner in James Moran’s Cockneys Vs Zombies alongside fellow veterans such as Honor Blackman, Tony Selby and Dudley Sutton.
Richard briers is survived by his wife, actress Ann Davies (remembered by Doctor Who fans from her role as resistance fighter Jenny in the 1964 TV serial ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’) and his daughters Lucy and Katie.