Richard Briers dies

Good Life star Richard Briers has died, aged 79. The actor, who had been battling a serious lung condition for a number of years, died "peacefully" at his London home yesterday.

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Former co-star Prunella Scales remembers 'dear friend'

Prunella Scales has described late sitcom star Richard Briers as a "wonderful colleague and a dear friend" after he passed away aged 79.

Scales, best known for her role as Sybil in Fawlty Towers, played opposite Briers as his wife in Marriage Lines in the early 1960s, for her first big career break.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live she would always be "so grateful to him" for encouraging her to read for the part, at a time when she was newly married to actor Timothy West in real life.

Former BBC chairman Michael Grade added his tribute to Briers, telling the radio station:

I think the nation has lost one of its most favourite, favourite, favourite actors of all time - he's sort of up there with Ronnie Barker and Alan Bennett, you know, the people you're always pleased to see doing anything on television or in the theatre.

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In pictures: The Good Life actor Richard Briers

actors Robert Lindsay, Lord Attenborough and Richard Briers pictured in 2002. Credit: Andy Butterton/PA Wire/Press Association Images
The Queen meets Richard Briers in 2006. Credit: Johnny Green/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Richard Briers meets Prince Charles in 2007. Credit: Arthur Edwards/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Kenneth Branagh (Left) wins the Stage Performance Award, presented by Richard Briers, at the Variety Club Showbiz Awards 2008. Credit: Ian West/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Richard Briers at an allotment the land earmarked for the construction of a new runway at Heathrow Airport in 2009. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

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Stephen Fry leads celebrity Twitter tributes to Briers

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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.

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I just want to say: Richard Briers - that's truly sad. A genius actor and a warm, lovely, and wonderfully entertaining man. RIP.

National

Organisations pay tribute to Richard Briers

Twitter was flooded with tributes for the actor Richard Briers, including from two organisations - BAFTA and Parkinsons UK - that were close to him:

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Saddened to learn that actor Richard Briers has passed away at the age of 79. http://t.co/E9BZZbaY

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We're really sad to hear that Richard Briers has passed away. Richard was our honorary vice president & a great supporter of Parkinson's UK

National

Smoker Briers said health problems were 'totally my fault'

Richard Briers
Richard Briers was a heavy smoker before quitting in 2003 Credit: PA

Richard Briers' health deteriorated after being diagnosed with emphysema five years ago.

In an interview at the end of January, he told how he blamed his years of smoking for the condition.

"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."

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Briers has 'a special place in the hearts of so many'

Richard Briers' agent, Christopher Farrar of Hamilton Hodell, has paid tribute to the actor:

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.

– Christopher Farrar
National

Sir Kenneth Branagh: Briers was a national treasure

Sir Kenneth Branagh and Richard Briers worked together on various classic plays
Sir Kenneth Branagh and Richard Briers worked together on various classic plays Credit: PA

Sir Kenneth Branagh has paid tribute to Richard Briers, saying: "He was a national treasure, a great actor and a wonderful man. He was greatly loved and he will be deeply missed."

Although Briers was long known for his comedy roles in film and TV, a new strand to his career unfolded when he joined Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987.

They worked together on Henry V, Peter's Friends, Much Ado About Nothing and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein during their lengthy association.