18 February 2013
Last updated at 15:19
Actor Richard Briers has died aged 79. He was perhaps best known for playing self-effacing, self-sufficient Tom Good in the popular sitcom The Good Life. His on-screen wife in the series was played by Felicity Kendal.
The show, which also starred Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington, was a huge success for the BBC and all four actors.
The Good Life ended in 1978 but writers John Esmonde and Bob Larbey later created another character for Briers. In Ever Decreasing Circles he played Martin Bryce, a well-meaning but strait-laced "pillar of the community", alongside his long-suffering wife (Penelope Wilton) and free-spirited neighbour Paul (Peter Egan).
Briers grew up in south-west London. He had a poor academic record ("I never even got a Z-level," he joked) but showed an early interest in acting. His family home overlooked a cinema and, during his national service with the RAF, he enrolled in an amateur dramatics society.
After two years at Rada, he won a scholarship with the Liverpool Playhouse, where he met his wife Ann Davies. They married on 24 February 1957.
An early film role came in 1967 spy spoof Fathom, in which Briers starred alongside Raquel Welch - a skydiving dental assistant enlisted by the secret service to recover an atomic weapon. Briers played Flight Lt Timothy Webb.
His last major TV role was as the irascible Hector in the BBC's Monarch of the Glen, which ran from 2000 to 2005.
The series, loosely based on Sir Compton Mackenzie's Highland Novels, also starred Susan Hampshire and Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes. Hampshire told BBC Radio 5 live: "He was so light of touch. He was never moody or difficult on the set, he was just a remarkably gifted man, never vulgar, never obvious but very, very gifted."
Briers starred in 1974 comedy One-Upmanship, which co-starred Peter Jones and was adapted from a spoof self-help book adapted for TV by Barry Took.
In 1979, he played opposite Judi Dench in an ITV adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw play Village Wooing. Dench played a shop assistant who won a round-the-world cruise, whose incessant chatter irks a snobbish, self-adsorbed guidebook writer, who is trying to polish off 500 words before lunchtime.
Sylvester McCoy played Doctor Who alongside Briers' Chief Caretaker in the four-part adventure Paradise Towers, broadcast in 1987.
Briers also had a keen love of theatre, and worked many times with Sir Kenneth Branagh over the years.
In 1994, he starred in Branagh's horrific adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. He is seen here alongside Robert DeNiro, who was praised for portraying the monster as a "more sensitive and perceptive creature" than in previous film adaptations.
Briers also played Adam in Branagh's film version of As You Like It. The Shakespearean character gives up his life savings to accompany his master Orlando (David Oyelowo) into exile.
Briers co-starred in Robert Shearman's BBC Radio 4 play Forever Mine about love and relationships with Pauline Collins in 2004. Jeremy Howe, the station's commissioning editor, said Briers was "surely one of the best character comedy actors of all time", adding: "We shall miss him, his energy, his charm and his unerring brilliant comic timing."
The highly respected actor was presented with his CBE at Buckingham Palace in 2003, and took his wife Annie and grandchildren Harry and Rachael with him.