Monday, March 4, 2013



Richard Briers, 79, a British actor who was an avuncular comic presence on TV and movie screens for decades, died Sunday at his London home, said his agent, Christopher Farrar. A former heavy smoker, Briers had suffered from emphysema.

Briers starred in the 1970s sitcom "The Good Life" as Tom Good, a man who decides to quit the urban rat race for a life of self-sufficiency in suburbia. Broadcast in Britain between 1975 and 1978, it aired in the United States as "Good Neighbors." He also starred in the comedy-drama "Ever-Decreasing Circles," the Scottish Highlands drama "Monarch of the Glen" and a host of other shows.
Although he excelled in the plays of Alan Ayckbourn, and became a national figure in his television sitcoms of the 1970s and 80s, notably 'The Good Life', he could mine hidden depths on stage, giving notable performances in Ibsen, Chekhov and, for Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance company, Shakespeare.

'The Good Life' defined his career, though he spent a lot of time getting away from his television persona as the self-sufficient, Surbiton smallholding dweller Tom Good in the brilliant series – 30 episodes between 1975 and 1978 – written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, and produced by John Howard Davies.

Paired with Felicity Kendal as his wife, Barbara, and pitted against their formidable, snobbish neighbour Margo Leadbetter (Penelope Keith) and her docile husband, Jerry (Paul Eddington), he gave one of the classic good-natured comedy sitcom performances of our time. Briers was already an established West End star when he started in 'The Good Life'.

In the same year as the first series, he up-ended expectation as Colin in "Absent Friends", Ayckbourn's bitter comedy about death, and the death of love, at the Garrick theatre. Like the playwright, he proved once and for all that he "did" bleak, too.

["Chris Martin"]

Good night and may God bless......

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