Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Godspeed Richard Briers

Richard Briers, who starred in the television programmes Brothers in Law, Marriage Lines, The Good Life, Monarch of the Glen, and many others, died 17 February 2013 at the age of 79.

Richard Briers was born on 14 January 1934 in Raynes Park, Surrey, England. He grew up in Raynes Park and later Guildford, Surrey. He attended  Rokeby Prep School in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. He left school at age 16 and spent the next few years trying to find a profession. He worked for a time in a clerical position with a London cable maker, then took evening classes in electrical engineering. He abandoned his studies to become a filing clerk. He was 18 years old when he was drafted into the Royal Air Force, in which he served as a filing clerk. While there he met Brian Murphy. later known for Man About the House. Through Mr. Murphy he found the Dramatic Society at the Borough Polytechnic Institute (now London Bank University). Following his National Service, Mr. Briers studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1954 to 1956.  After graduating from RADA he won a scholarship with the Liverpool Repertory Company. He later moved to the Belgrade Theatre. He made his debut on television in 1956 in a production of She Stoops to Conquer. He made his film debut in 1958 in Girls at Sea (1958). He made his debut on the West End in 1959 in a production of production of Gilt And Gingerbread.

In the late Fifties and Sixties Richard Briers appeared in such films as Bottoms Up (1960) , Murder She Said (1961), The Girl on the Boat (1961), A Matter of WHO (1961), Doctor in Distress (1963) , All in Good Time (1964), Fathom (1967), and All the Way Up (1970). On television he starred in the shows Marriage Lines and Brothers in Law. He also appeared on such shows as Armchair Theatre, Harpers West One, Dixon of Dock Green, and Jackanory.

In the Seventies he starred on the shows Birds on the Wing, The Good Life, One-Upmanship, and The Other One. He also appeared on such shows as Ooh La La, Late Night Drama, The Morecambe and Wise Show, and ITV Playhouse. He was the narrator of the animated series Roobarb and Noddy. He appeared in the film Rentadick (1972),  and was the voice of Fiver in Watership Down (1978).  In the Eighties Mr. Briers starred in the shows Goodbye, Mr. Kent; All in Good Faith; and Ever Decreasing Circles. He appeared on the shows The Goodies, Doctor Who, Minder, and Mr. Bean. He appeared in the films A Chorus of Disapproval (1989) and Henry V (1989).

In the Nineties Richard Briers starred in the shows If You See God, Tell Him; Down to Earth; and Monarch of the Glen. He provided the voice of Fiver on the animated series Watership Down. He appeared in the films Swan Song (1992), Peter's Friends (1992), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Frankenstein (1994), A Midwinter's Tale (1995), Hamlet (1996),  and Love's Labour's Lost (2000). In the Naughts he provided voices for the animated programmes Roobarb and Custard and Watership Down. He appeared on the shows Doctors, Holby City, and Torchwood. He appeared in the films Unconditional Love (2002), Peter Pan (2003), As You Like It (2006), Freds Meat (2010), Run for Your Wife (2012), and Cockneys vs Zombies (2012).

If Richard Briers starred in multiple sitcoms that proved to be popular, it was perhaps because he had a singular gift for comedy. The man had perfect timing and was so funny that he could elicit a laugh with a mere facial expression. He was also capable of playing a variety of characters, from the earnest Tom Good in The Good Life to the obsessive Martin Bryce in Ever Decreasing Circles. While best known for his work in comedy, Mr. Briers was adept at drama as well. Notable is his performance in the TV movie Dad as a man whose wife has dementia. Richard Briers was a truly great talent in British talent, and one who will be remembered for years to come.

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