Stars have paid tribute to Good Life actor Richard Briers, who has died of emphysema aged 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.
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"Oh no, I’ve just heard the news that Richard Briers has died. How sad. He was the most adorable and funny man imaginable," tweeted Stephen Fry.
History Boys star Russell Tovey also paid homage to the actor.
"RIP Richard Briers... So sad... What a legend x," said the actor.
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.
"I was diagnosed five years ago and didn't think it would go quite as badly as it has. 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.”
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."
His agent, Christopher Farrar, of Hamilton Hodell, said: "Richard was a wonderful man, a consummate professional and an absolute joy to work alongside.
"Following his recent discussion of his battle with emphysema, I know he was incredibly touched by the strength of support expressed by friends and the public. He has a unique and special place in the hearts of so many. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go to his family at this sad time."
Tributes from the Twittersphere
- "Very sad news about Richard Brier's passing. I just adored him growing up. "The Good Life" was a staple at our home." - Holly Candy
- "RIP Richard Briers. A Man who brought joy from the barb to the Bard..." Patrick Kielty
- "RIP Richard Briers- such a comedy legend who will be sadly missed from our screens." Emma Forbes
- "So sad we've lost the dignified and delightful Richard Briers. A genuinely lovely man with timing better than Tag Heuer." Philip Schofield
- "I've just heard the news that Richard Briers has died. So sad. He was the most adorable and funny man imaginable." Stephen Fry
- "Sad news about Richard Briers, will be missed. Funny man. RIP" Lord Alan Sugar
- "Oh no... just heard the very sad news about Richard Briers. Condolences to his family. A terrific actor an absolute gentleman. RIP." John Simm