Richard Briers


Richard Briers

Infobox actor
name = Richard Briers


imagesize =
caption = Briers at a "Doctor Who" conference, Barking, 25 March 2006
birthdate = birth date and age|1934|1|14|df=yes
birthplace = Raynes Park, Surrey, England
deathdate =
deathplace =
othername =
homepage =

Richard David Briers, CBE (born 14 January 1934) is an English actor whose career has encompassed the theatre, television, film and radio.

He first came to fame as George Starling in "Marriage Lines" in the mid-1960s. The following decade, the role of Tom Good in the BBC sitcom "The Good Life" made him a household name. In the 1980s he starred in "Ever Decreasing Circles", and from 2000 to 2002 came back to the spotlight with a leading role in "Monarch of the Glen".

Early life

Briers was born in Raynes Park, Surrey, England, the son of Joseph Benjamin Briers and Morna Phyllis (née Richardson). [ [http://www.filmreference.com/film/67/Richard-Briers.html Richard Briers Biography (1934-)] ] He is the second cousin of actor Terry-Thomas. He spent his childhood in Raynes Park and Guildford. His father drifted between jobs, while his mother dreamt of a career in showbiz, something she could not achieve for financial reasons.cite news|url=|title=A Celebration of The Good Life|first=|last=|publisher=Orion Books|date=2000] He attended Rokeby Prep School in Kingston upon Thames, and left at the age of 16 without any formal qualifications. He then took a clerical post with a London cable manufacturer, and for a short time went to evening class to qualify in electrical engineering, but soon left and became a filing clerk. At the age of 18, he was called up for two years National Service in the RAF, during which he was a filing clerk at RAF Northwood, where he met future "George and Mildred" star Brian Murphy. Murphy introduced Briers, who had first been interested in acting at 14, to the Elephant and Castle Polytechnic, and when he left the RAF he joined RADA, which he attended from 1954 to 1956. He won a scholarship with Liverpool Repertory Company, and he worked with them for 15 months, then moved to the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry for 6 months and then had his West End debut.

It was while at Liverpool Rep, that he met his future wife Ann Davies, who was acting as stage manager, and has acted on television since the 1960s. Soon after meeting, he borrowed £5 from his mother, bought an engagement ring and they were married within six months. They have two children, one of whom, Lucy, is also an actress.

Television fame

Briers got his first leading role on television in "Brothers in Law" in 1962. He was cast in this role by writers Frank Muir and Denis Norden, who had spotted him in the West End. The following year Briers got the lead male role in "Marriage Lines" opposite Prunella Scales. His other early appearances included "Dixon of Dock Green", "The Seven Faces of Jim", "The Morecambe & Wise Show", and the narrator in several episodes of "Jackanory".

In 1975, Briers was given one of the lead roles in the successful sitcom "The Good Life", where he played Tom Good, a draftsman who decides, on his 40th birthday, to give up his job and try his hand at self-sufficiency. In 1978, he starred opposite his "The Good Life" co-star Penelope Keith in the televised version of "The Norman Conquests".

During the 1980s, he appeared in the "Goodbye, Mr Kent", "All in Good Faith", "Tales of the Unexpected", "Mr. Bean" and "Twelfth Night" (as Malvolio). In 1987, he appeared in the "Doctor Who" episode "Paradise Towers". From 1984 to 1987 he was the lead role of Martin Bryce in "Ever Decreasing Circles", and in 1993 took the lead role of Godfrey Spry in the BBC comedy drama "If You See God, Tell Him".

Other work

Briers has spent much of his career in theatre work, including appearances in plays by Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. In 1967, one of his earliest successes was playing alongside Michael Hordern and Celia Johnson in the London production of Alan Ayckbourn's "Relatively Speaking". Briers was a member of Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company, taking on classical and Shakespearean roles including Malvolio in "Twelfth Night" and the title roles in "King Lear" and "Uncle Vanya".

Briers is also a familiar voice actor, with numerous commercials, including adverts for the Midland Bank in which he was the voice of the company's Griffin symbol, and the animated children's series "Roobarb" and "Bob the Builder" to his credit. He also provided the voice of Fiver in the 1978 film adaptation of "Watership Down".

His work in radio includes playing Bertie Wooster in a series of adaptations of Jeeves novels by P. G. Wodehouse, Dr. Simon Sparrow in Radio 4's adaption of Doctor At Large, and later the play "Not Talking", commissioned for BBC Radio 3 by Mike Bartlett. Briers has also appeared in several of Kenneth Branagh's films, such as "Henry V" (as Bardolph), "Much Ado About Nothing" (as Signor Leonato), and as Polonius in "Hamlet".

Recent years

Since 1990, he has appeared in "Lovejoy", "If You See God, Tell Him", "Inspector Morse", "Midsomer Murders" (the episode "Death's Shadow"), "Doctors" and "New Tricks". Richard Briers starred as Hector in the first three series of "Monarch of the Glen" from 2000 to 2002, a role which saw him return to the limelight. In 2006, he made an appearance in an episode of "Extras", and portrayed the servant Adam in Kenneth Branagh's 2006 Shakespeare adaptation, "As You Like It". He made a cameo appearance as a dying recluse in the 2008 "Torchwood" episode "A Day in the Death". [cite press release |title=A new face for Torchwood and a new look for Martha |publisher=BBC Press Office |date=15 August 2007 |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2007/08_august/15/torchwood.shtml |accessdate=2007-08-16]

Richard Briers was appointed the OBE in 1989, and in 2003 he became a CBE. [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/2988170.stm|title=Richard Briers' classic career|first=|last=|publisher=BBC|date=13 June 2003] Because of Terry Thomas's Parkinson's disease, Briers became President of the Parkinson's Disease Society. [Parkinson's Disease Society annual report 2003]

References

External links

*imdb|id=0001972|name=Richard Briers
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/talent/b/briers_richard.shtml Richard Briers] at the BBC Comedy Guide
* [http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/1157964/index.html Richard Briers] at BFI ScreenOnline


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