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Richard Briers, The Good Life star, dies aged 79


Actor Richard Briers, best known for his role in TV's The Good Life, has died at the age of 79, his agent has said.

The star, who was also an accomplished stage actor, had been battling a serious lung condition for several years.

Briers died "peacefully" at his London home on Sunday, his agent said.

Briers recently said years of smoking had been to blame for his emphysema.

Famed for his role as the hapless Tom Good in the 1970s BBC sitcom The Good Life, Briers also starred in shows such as Ever Decreasing Circles, Monarch Of The Glen and Doctor Who.

He also appeared in many films, most recently in British comedy film Cockneys versus Zombies, plus a cameo role in Run For Your Wife, based on Ray Cooney's 1980s stage farce.

Briers also provided the voice for the character of Fiver in the animated feature Watership Down (1978).


After a long career in popular television, Briers joined Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, and his career moved on to major classical roles.

He said at the time: "Ken offered me Malvolio in his production of Twelfth Night at the very time I had decided to expand my career when I realised I had gone as far as I could doing sitcoms. As soon as I worked with him, I thought he was truly exceptional."

After playing Malvolio, Briers took on the acting challenge of King Lear, followed by the title role in Uncle Vanya and Menenius in Coriolanus.

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 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994).

Briers was born in London on 14 January, 1934 and was inspired to be an actor by his mother, a music and drama teacher.

He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and won a scholarship to Liverpool Playhouse in 1956. Two years later he made his first West End appearance in Gilt And Gingerbread.

His big screen career began with the British features Bottoms Up (1960), Murder She Said (1961), The Girl On The Boat and A Matter of Who (both 1962) and the multi-national The VIPs (1963), followed by Raquel Welch's spy spoof Fathom (1967).

He was awarded the OBE in 1989 for services to the arts. Briers married the actress Anne Davies in 1956. They had two daughters.

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Bob Godfrey, Roobarb animator, dies aged 91



Watch a clip of Bob Godfrey's famous cartoon Roobarb

The animator of much-loved cartoons Roobarb and Henry's Cat has died aged 91, his family has confirmed.

Bob Godfrey won an Oscar for his short film Great, a biography of the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but remains best known for his TV work.

The British animator - whose career spanned 50 years - was also responsible for Noah and Nelly in... Skylark and the risque cartoon series Henry 9 to 5.

He was awarded three Baftas and received an MBE in June 1986.

_66021231_godfrey.jpgGodfrey won an Oscar for his short Great in 1976

Godfrey was born in Australia, on 27 January 1921, but was educated in east London.

He began his professional career as a graphic artist working in advertising, before joining the innovative Larkin Studio in the early 1950s where he made his earliest cartoons.

In the mid-1950s, Godfrey joined up with Jeff Hale and Keith Learner, and later Nancy Hanna and Vera Linnecar, to form Biographic Films, making some of the first commercials for ITV.

But he sought to work outside the American tradition, characterised by Disney - and typically took a more unorthodox view, producing work such as The Do It Yourself Cartoon Kit (1961).

Kama Sutra

Working as Bob Godfrey Films, he cornered the market with his "adult animation" such as Henry 9 to 5 and Kama Sutra Rides Again, which earned him his first Oscar nomination - after it was entered for the awards by an American who bought the cartoon from him for £150.

It was closely followed by the Oscar-winning short Great, which satirised Victorian attitudes and the decline of the British Empire, won him the Academy Award and a Bafta in 1976.

"I'd been reading a book about Brunel so I asked British Lion, who backed Kama Sutra, if I could have some money to make a half-hour cartoon about a Victorian engineer," he told the Guardian in 2001.

"Yes, they said, here's £20,000. They'd have given me money to animate a toilet if I'd asked them."

_66026284_4kmzxrn2.jpgCustard the cat is among Godfrey's best-loved work

It was during this period of his life that he animated the children's classic Roobarb, created by Grange Calveley and narrated by Richard Briers, who died earlier this week.

The anarchic cartoon about a warring cat and dog, with its memorable theme tune and wobbly dog animation won a cult following, which continues today.

He collaborated once again with Calveley and Briers on 1976's Noah and Nelly in.... Skylark, returning successfully to children's TV with Henry's Cat in the early 1980s.

But he was at his happiest when he was pushing the boundaries of conventional animation, working alongside avant-garde stars such as Spike Milligan and Michael Bentine, hob-nobbing with the Beatles and, later, becoming an inspiration for a young Terry Gilliam.

Aardman Animations founder Peter Lord tweeted: "Ah! Dear old Bob Godfrey is no more. A great influence and inspiration to me and my generation of animators. Also a lovely bloke."

Godfrey continued to work on commercials and TV commissions into his early 80s, producing his last work, Channel 4's Millennium: The Musical, in 1999.

As a teacher of animation, he told the Guardian in 2001: "I teach the basics of animation, then it's up to the individual.

"Great illustrators don't always make great animators. I've known people who couldn't draw at all who were great animators. You can always spot the ones with real talent. They don't listen to you."

Edited by mjmooney
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