Sadly, another longtime ‘friend’ to public broadcasting in the States whom most of us feel like we’ve spent every weekend with over the past 30+ years has died. Richard Briers, a.k.a. Tom Good from Good Neighbors, Martin Bryce in Ever Decreasing Circles and Hector MacDonald in Monarch of the Glen passed away Sunday evening at the age of 79. A number of us had the great good fortune of spending time with Richard over the years during our PBS productions about British comedy, Funny Ladies of British Comedy, Funny Blokes of British Comedy and, most recently, From Script to Screen: Behind the Britcom. Richard Briers was always the consummate professional and an absolutely genuine delight to sit and talk with at great length about comedy, both the history of and where it’s going, and life in general.
As with so many British actors that we are familiar with from our favorite situation comedies, Briers was an accomplished stage actor who appeared in numerous Shakespeare plays after joining Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987. But most of us knew him for his role as Tom Good in The Good Life (retitled Good Neighbors when broadcast in the U.S.). Here, Briers shares some insight into the casting of The Good Life and how important it was to the success of the series to have the quality of cast they had as part of our tribute to the writers of British comedy program.
In 2005, as part of our Funny Blokes of British Comedy, host Lenny Henry ‘introduced’ to Tom Good. We also heard from Good Life co-stars Penelope Keith and Felicity Kendal who shared their thoughts on working with Richard Briers followed by some brilliant insights from Richard about comedy, his approach to comedy acting, his thoughts on Tom Good and the series was probably more applicable to today times than when it originally premiered in 1975.
R.I.P. Richard Briers. Thanks for all the laughs over the past 30+ years and for the endless laughs you no doubt will provide us with in the years to come. We will all miss you.