Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Articles A Tribute to Richard Briers

Richard Briers
14 January 1934 – 17 February 2013 

My earliest memories of Richard Briers came from childhood.  Being an avid fan of children’s TV I remember switching on and enjoying programmes such as Skylark (1976) which was an animated show lasting approximately 5 minutes.  Skylark was loosely based on the story of Noah’s Ark, with Noah and Nelly his wife, collecting up all the strange and wonderful creatures, and loading them onto their ship.  Richard Briers narrated most of the voices for this programme; Peter Hawkins was co- narrator.  Two years before (1974) another favourite 5 minute film created again by Grange Calverley and animated by Bob Godfrey was Roobarb.  Roobarb was a green dog who always got into scrapes and was often set up by a pink cat called Custard who would always try and sabotage Roobarb’s fun.  Richard Briers provided all the voices for this show.

I used to also enjoy watching The Good Life (1975 – 1978) with Felicity Kendall, Paul Eddington, Penelope Keith and of course Richard Briers.  It told of a man who on his 40th birthday was disillusioned with his life as a draughtsman working for a company who made plastic toys for cereal packets, wanted to be self sufficient and set up a market garden at the back of his house.  It was wonderfully put together and in suburbia where these kinds of ideas for ripping up your garden and possibly lowering the tone of the neighbourhood, devaluing the neighbours properties would be frowned upon, but the story worked and it was entertaining every week.
Over the years Richard Briers was to appear in many sitcoms and dramas, radio plays and stage shows, but the ones that stuck in my mind were Monarch of the Glen (2000 – 2002) where he played Hector McDonald on the Glenbogle estate, Scotland. It was a fantastic series spanning the life of the McDonald family, and the scenery was breathtaking.
Richard also appeared as the Chief Caretaker in Paradise Towers (1987) a Doctor Who series featuring Sylvester McCoy.

In 2008 Richard played Henry Parker, a dying recluse in Torchwood – A Day in the Death, written by Joseph Lidster, a piece that embraced life and death and hope, in so much that Owen was the living dead, and Henry was alone, and dying, but clutching onto the hope that the alien device he held so close to him was keeping him alive, but when he realised it wasn’t, he died.

Richard Briers was born in Raynes Park, Surrey on 14th January 1934.  He was the first cousin once removed of actor Terry Thomas.  He left school without any formal qualifications.  At the age of 18 he was called up for the two years national service in the RAF where he met Brian Murphy, the actor who starred alongside Yootha Joyce in George and Mildred.  Brian introduced Richard to the Dramatic Society at the Borough Polytechnic Institute, now known as London South Bank University where he performed in several productions.  When he left the RAF he studied at RADA from 1954 to 1956.  He was placed in a class with both Peter O’Toole and Albert Finney.  In 1959 he made his West End debut in the Duke of York’s Theatre production of Gilt and Gingerbread.

Richard Briers career spans decades in Film, TV, Stage and Radio.  He was a voice actor who many recognised in children’s programmes, radio plays and adverts such as the Griffin on the Midland Bank advert, and a sitcom style advert about the Ford Sierra.
In 1989 Richard Briers was appointed the OBE and CBE in 2003.

We all remember Richard Briers in our life, growing up in an era where television played a huge part in our childhood.  He had an unmistakeable voice that no matter which guise he played, you always knew it was Richard.  He was an actor who I would have loved to have met, but we have such memorable programmes to remember him by.  ~DJ (Jack)~

Acknowledgement to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Briers 


The fans of Richard Briers 

Steve Taylor-Bryant TheCultDen

Born: January 14, 1934, Raynes Park Died: February 17, 2013, Chiswick.

Richard Briers was a fantastic actor. I could leave this piece here but it really doesn't tell of the impact he had both on the screen and me as a person.

Being the huge Doctor Who (Chief Caretaker/Kroagnon 4 episodes of Paradise Towers, 1987) and Torchwood ( Parker in A Day In The Death Series 2 2008 ) fan that I am, obviously these shows spring to mind first when the name of Richard Briers is mentioned, but is there many actors who could leave a legacy across so many genres like Richard did? I think not. From Shakespeare to Cockneys v Zombies via Spice World the breadth of Richard Briers acting ability can surely not be questioned but it is a couple of situation comedy's that I owe the man a debt of gratitude for.

Not often anymore is there incredible family television for all ages to view, and outside of dancing, singing, and reality shows, very little so I appreciate even more my childhood sat with my sister and my parents laughing out loud at The Good Life and Ever Decreasing Circles. I cannot watch that show without having very fond memories evoked and for that I will be forever grateful.

Pauline Howard:  I never met Richard but loved his portrayal in Torchwood, a great actor. I loved him in the Good Life.

Chan Walrus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJCxJWwkHdQ
Beautifully acted

Brass Eye was a satirical look on the new events and covered six mockumentaries on tv in 1996.  In Good Science/Bad Science featuring an appeal to protect people against “heavy” electricity falling from overhead wires and squashing cows and people the episode saw Richard Briers appealing to the public for support for those affected in Sri Lanka.

Hiddles Rockologist:  I grew up watching The Good Life.  Loved him in Much Ado About Nothing, thought his character in Torchwood was lovely.

Echo Fain: My first memory of Richard Briers was of watching him on Doctor Who as a fantastic bad guy in the serial 'Paradise Towers'. At the time, he was the scariest and most sadistic man I'd ever seen, dressed like a stylized Nazi but with a voice that suggested he wasn't at all unreasonable. That voice saying 'filthy human parasites' unmade me as an adolescent, gave me the shivers. Later, seeing him play a dying man on Torchwood brought me back around to remembering how wonderful an actor he truly was. Already, we know his like will never be seen again.

If anyone has any memories they'd like to contribute in the Comments box below, please feel free to do so.  I'm sure everyone who remembers Richard will have one memory of him.

Special thanks to Steve Taylor-Bryant, Pauline Howard, Chan Walrus, Hiddles Rockologist, Echo Fain, Wikipedia and Google


  1. Blimey how did I miss adding to the tribute!? lol

    For me Richard will always be Tom in my heart. I have wonderful memories as a child, sitting on an evening watching 'The Good Life'. I loved Tom and Barbara (I had a little thing for her but who didn't? lol) I loved everything about the series. And Richard breathed life into Tom.

    But there was also 'Rhubarb and Custard' ~ I must confess I never totally got into it. But I did love listening to Richards voice. He did brilliant voices. My younger sister and brother LOVED R&C lol

    I also feel a pang of guilt. I am a long time Doctor Who fan. But I'd stopped watching at Colin Baker. I felt the heart and soul had gone from the series and couldn't watch it. So I never saw him in 'Paradise Towers' with the 7th Doctor :( Maybe I should find it on YT! lol

    Thank you for this lovely tribute

  2. Richard took the lead role in my BBC film 'Dad'. He played opposite Kevin Whately, as his son. The film was part of the Red Nose event that year and sought to highlight both Alzheimer's and the stresses that can lead a loving family towards elder abuse. Richard was a delight to work with, the most gentle, genial, cheerful man, who charmed us all. His chuckle, his stories (he knew everyone who had ever walked onto a set or trod the boards!) and his professionalism made the cold damp shoot a joy. His wife, Annie, was with us for much of the shoot and they were a great couple to be with. My abiding memory of him is that as each filming day drew to its close he would smile that lovely naughty smile and nod towards the director, nudging me to check if we were nearing the wrap. He would say, mischeviously, 'Go on, darling, be a dear. Just ask them, is this the Chardonnay shot?'
    Now, at the end of a long day, when I think it may be time to wind down, I find myself thinking 'Go on, darling, be a dear, tell me this is the Chardonnay shot.'
    Lovely Richard. We miss him.