HOW WE MET; PATRICIA EDDINGTON AND RICHARD BRIERS

Patricia Eddington was born in London. She was married to the actor Paul Eddington for 43 years until his death last year. A former actress and drama teacher, she has also worked as a volunteer special- needs teacher in a primary school. She has four children and two grandchildren; she lives in London.

The actor Richard Briers OBE, 62, was born in London. A versatile stage and television actor, he appeared with Paul Eddington in the BBC series The Good Life from 1974-77. From 23-27 December, Briers will read extracts from Eddington's autobiography on Radio 4. Briers lives with his wife, the actress Ann Davies, in London; they have two daughters

Patricia Eddington was born in London. She was married to the actor Paul Eddington for 43 years until his death last year. A former actress and drama teacher, she has also worked as a volunteer special needs teacher in a primary school. She has four children and two grandchildren; she lives in London.

PATRICIA EDDINGTON: Paul introduced me to Dickie when they both started doing The Good Life in 1974. They already knew each other slightly, having met in various studios around the BBC; they were also both on the council of Equity, the actors' union. Even then, Dickie was already a big star. He'd been famous more or less since he left RADA with a silver medal.

From the first time we met, I felt Dickie was a friend I'd known for ever. It was strange - that feeling of thinking we had known each other always. Since Paul died, Dickie rings me every 10 days and says "Hello, darling," in that wonderfully silly way he has. It never fails to cheer me up. I think one of the reasons he and Paul were so close was their sense of humour. It just gelled. Dickie's way of telling a story is very giggly and expansive; and Paul, too, was a wonderful raconteur. Like all of us, Paul was caught up in Dickie's enthusiasm and they felt very comfortable working together. Each of them had an instinctive ability to use some of their own individual qualities in characters.

The cast of The Good Life used to celebrate once a new series was underway and the costumes were sorted out. When it was our turn to host the party, Paul and I were still living in north London. I'd worked out how long it would take for everyone to come up from TV Centre, and planned the cooking time around their journey. Unfortunately, Dickie arrived much earlier than anyone else; I still had my pinny on and absolutely nothing was ready. But as soon as I opened the door, instead of panicking me, he just said, "Hello darling, I flew here," and made himself at home.

In the acting profession, there are plenty of happily married couples like Dickie and Ann; or me and Paul, but they're not the ones who are news- worthy, so you don't hear about them most of the time. As it happens, the four of us come from very similar backgrounds. We're all rooted in the theatre, although Ann has been freer to pursue her work than me - I was the one who had four children.

When Dickie and Paul acted opposite each other in David Storey's play Home in 1994, Dickie knew how ill Paul was - as did the producer and director. But everyone was very keen to do it. Dickie could just fit it in before he took on yet another project. He very much wanted to do it and Ann, Dickie's wife, backed him up. At times the schedule was very difficult, because Paul had to have his treatment and still carry on with rehearsals. The treatment exhausted him, so Dickie - being Dickie - took away all the stress of the publicity and interviews. "Look, old love," he said, "I'll do it. If they've got one of us they don't need you." That meant Paul could conserve all his energies for the stage. There were nights when Paul was undoubtedly feeling very ill, but the minute he had to appear, something extraordinary happened. He got up, did the play and was fine. I think Dickie knew how serious Paul's illness was, but I don't think he wanted to believe it.

Paul greatly admired Dickie's work. He thought he'd taken a huge step forward when we saw him in Hammersmith in The Wild Duck. He surprised everyone. We usually think of him as a great comedian and his performance was very touching. Dickie is a considerable actor with a marvellous voice. He's a much "bigger" actor than most people imagine because he hides under his jokey personality. Dickie's opinion of himself as an actor and as a person is engagingly low, and quite unfounded. I'm constantly surprised by him; Paul was, too.

I asked Dickie to read from Cymbeline, "Fear no more the Heat of the Sun..." at Paul's funeral. At the Thanksgiving Service, Dickie also read some PG Wodehouse, which Paul always loved. As a boy at boarding school, where he was frequently cold and undernourished, Paul would sneak off to the airing cupboard to read PG Wodehouse by torchlight under the blankets. He thought Dickie was the finest exponent of PG Wodehouse we have.

When Dickie rang to ask how I felt about him reading Paul's book for Radio 4, I told him that of course I'd love him to do it. He had no need to ask me, but it would have been out of character for him if he hadn't. It's just over a year since Paul died, but even though he's extremely busy, Dickie has literally looked after me. He's a person who inspires friendships in people, and I love him.

RICHARD BRIERS: I met Trish when Paul Eddington and I were doing The Good Life for BBC. As couples, in real life, the four of us became friends. We all felt genuine affection for one another. Had Paul and Trish lived nearer, we would definitely have seen much more of them in those early days. Unfortunately, they were near Muswell Hill and we've always been in west London, which makes it difficult for frequent visiting. Even if we didn't see each other a lot, we phoned often. As couples, one of the things we shared was each having our own extremely happy family. Ann and Trish are both the real anchors.

Although Paul was always in work - until The Good Life brought TV celebrity status - he was more of a jobbing actor. At times, he and Trish and their growing family were not at all well off. The huge success came late, but when it did the work doubled and then tripled - along with the interviews and press calls which are always the price of fame. Trish was always there for him. However stressed he may sometimes have felt, she was an amazing support. It's an awful cliche to say, "Behind every great man..." but in Paul's case it was certainly true. Theirs was an extraordinary partnership. It was a marriage I would compare to the famously long-lasting and close one between the actors Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson.

After Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, Paul and Trish did quite a lot of travelling on behalf of the programme. In certain countries, people actually thought that Paul, if not actually prime minister, must be some high ranking official. I think it was in Sweden when they were met by a VIP limousine and swept off for drinks at government offices. I've no doubt Trish played her part as First Lady brilliantly.

Although I knew of Paul's skin cancer for some years, I was never fearful for him, and I don't think, in the early days of the diagnosis, that Trish was either. It seemed to me that I'd heard of many people who'd had skin cancer on their noses - moles and blemishes. Obviously, the condition was very unpleasant, but I never thought for a moment that what Paul had was going to kill him. When the disease began slowly to spread to his face, hair and lymph glands, Trish was his nurse and constant support - always meticulous in the way she looked after him. Her main concern was that he shouldn't be in any pain.

Paul's illness did nothing to change the relationship between me and him. Gradually, over the years, his condition got worse, but it wasn't anything dramatic, so we carried on quite normally. Looking back on it now, it was rather like watching my cousin, Terry Thomas, who died, very slowly, of Parkinson's disease.

Throughout, Trish coped with great bravery. I've always thought that women were much stronger than men, and if Trish is anything to go by then I'm probably right. However much she might feel like it, life has to go on.

When we did David Storey's play Home, Paul was already quite ill and needed regular out-patient hospital treatment. We did 10 weeks on tour and 10 weeks in the West End. Our tour was planned around towns which had hospitals where Paul could go for his weekly treatment sessions. Sometimes, in his dressing room, he would be looking very tired and frail, but Trish was there, by his side, with her tapestry or her knitting, looking after him and bolstering him up. Paul was the centre of her life, as she was for him. Now she has the grandchildren and children to keep her busy.

There were times, towards the end, whilst Paul was writing his autobiography, when he felt he couldn't be bothered, or was too exhausted to carry on. Trish gently encouraged him to keep at it. She was never pushy or sentimental, she just quietly persevered - and the book was finished.

I was delighted when the BBC asked me to read extracts from Paul's autobiography. When we were planning the actual recordings, I thought it would be a bit too emotional for me - and, I suspect, for Trish too - if she sat through it all. So we arranged that she would come in on the second day. After I finished the last two extracts, which I'd rehearsed like mad, we went out for lunch.

Since Paul's death, I've kept in touch with Trish by phone at least once a fortnight. Work permitting, we do the usual things we would have done when Paul was alive - have a drink or a meal together. It gives us a chance to catch up on each other's lives.

Sometimes, when one half of a partnership is more famous than the other, and that famous half is no longer here, a friendship can fade. With me and Trish, it's the opposite; our friendship has grown. Being with Trish reminds me of happy times with Paul - my lasting memory is that, even in his final illness, we never really stopped laughing. !

Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific