Actor Richard Briers dies, aged 79

Updated: 18 February 2013 14:41

The Good Life actor Richard Briers has died at the age of 79.

The Good Life actor Richard Briers has died at the age of 79.

Briers had recently revealed that he was battling with emphysema as a result of his smoking addiction.

His agent confirmed that he died "peacefully" at his London home yesterday (February 17).

Speaking to the Daily Mail newspaper last month, Briers said: "I've got emphysema, you see, so I'm buggered.

"I haven't even got the strength to garden anymore. Five hundred thousand cigarettes, darling - that's the trouble."

He added: "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.

"The ciggies got me. I stopped ten years ago but too late. If you do it in your 30s then you're okay, but after 30 it gets you.

"I was diagnosed five years ago and didn't think it would go quite as badly as it has. It's a bugger, but there it is. I used to love smoking."

He will be best remembered for his performance as Tom Good, alongside Felicity Kendal, in the 1970s BBC1 sitcom The Good Life about a couple who drop out of the rat race. He also starred on television in Ever Decreasing Circles, The Monarch of the Glen.

He joined Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987 where he undertook major classical roles including King Lear and Uncle Vanya on stage. On film Branagh cast him as Bardolph in Henry V (1989), as Stephen Fry's father in the comedy Peter's Friends (1992), Don Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), the blind grandfather in the controversial Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) and as a cranky old trouper in A Midwinter's Tale (1996), the same year in which he filmed the role of Polonius in Hamlet.

Branagh said of Briers today: "He was a national treasure, a great actor and a wonderful man. He was greatly loved and he will be deeply missed."

Briers was married to the actress Anne Davies in 1956. They had two daughters, Lucy and Katie.