With the death of Richard Briers at the age of 79, Britain has sadly lost one of its finest and best-loved comedy actors.
Paying tribute to the man he'd directed in films 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'Henry V', Kenneth Branagh rightly called Briers "a national treasure". And while Briers wasn't just a comedy actor, of course, he will be best remembered for his roles in classic sitcoms like 'The Good Life' and 'Ever Decreasing Circles'. So with our comedy heads on, here are just five things we'll always love and remember him for...
1. His sweetness and warmth
The wonderful character of Tom Good in 'The Good Life' was created by writers John Esmonde and Bob Larbey - but it's hard to imagine anyone being as adorable as Briers in the role. He made the sweet, optimistic, puppy-like Tom constantly loveable - even when he was being daft (as Barbara might say) or downright pigheaded.
2. The flirtatious twinkle in his eye
Whether it was with Penelope Keith as his neighbour Margo or Felicity Kendall as his own wife Barbara, Briers played a wonderful - and wonderfully silly - flirt. (In fact, Tom and Barbara's openly loving and flirtatious relationship was a constant delight to behold - and rare in sitcom couples.) Who can forget the sexual tension when he grabbed Margo in the kitchen in the 1977 Christmas special, and uttered the immortal line: "It's quite simple. Just pretend you're somebody stupid, like me"?
3. His 'Good Life' whistle
Fast-forward to 5:08 in the clip below to enjoy Tom Good's trademark 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' whistle - which we're hazarding a guess was invented by Richard Briers, rather than the writers. It's just one of the wonderful little acting tricks Briers was so good at, and it's been engrained in our brains since childhood:
4. His 'Ever Decreasing Circles' telephone tic
Morecambe and Wise's main writer Eddie Braben once said that what he wrote was good, but Eric and Ernie made it great. The same could be said of Briers and John Esmonde and Bob Larbey - who, as well as writing 'The Good Life', created the terrific 'Ever Decreasing Circles'. The humourless Martin Bryce was nowhere near as obviously charming as Tom Good - but Briers' acting and comedy chops helped to make him loveable. And Martin's memorable telephone-correcting tic was just one example of making good writing great:
5. 'Roobarb And Custard'
Drawn by Bob Godfrey, written by Grange Calveley and voiced by Richard Briers, 'Roobarb And Custard' was essential viewing for any self-respecting British child in the mid 1970s. In fact, the only thing that came close to Briers' wonderful narration was Johnny Hawskworth's cracking theme tune:
RIP, Mr Briers. Thank you for the countless, memorable, wonderful comedy moments.
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