Just two weeks after the actor Richard Briers told press he was struggling with lung disease his death has been confirmed by his agent.
The Good Life star was 79 and had been battling emphysema for a number of years.
In an interview with Daily Mail in early February Briers said: "I was diagnosed five years ago and didn't think it would go quite as badly as it has. It's a bugger, but there it is. I used to love smoking."
He added: "It's totally my fault. So, I get very breathless, which is a pain in the backside. Trying to get upstairs... oh God, it's ridiculous. Of course, when you're bloody nearly 80 it's depressing, because you've had it anyway."
Briers said he stopped smoking 10 years ago, but by then it was too late. He said: "If you do it in your 30s, you're OK, but after 30 it gets you.”
The actor was best known for appearing alongside Felicity Kendal in long-running TV sitcom The Good Life. His television credits also include Ever Decreasing Circles, Monarch of the Glen and Marriage Lines.
Both on stage and film Briers was famed for his Shakespearean performances. As a member of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company he appeared in the director’s film adaptions of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet; on stage he played King Lear and Malvolio in Twelfth Night.
His other film credits include Peter Pan, Frankenstein and the recent Danny Dyer vehicle Run For Your Wife.
Briers died "peacefully" at his London home yesterday, his agent Christopher Farrar said today.
Farrar, of Hamilton Hodell, said: "Richard was a wonderful man, a consummate professional and an absolute joy to work alongside.
"Following his recent discussion of his battle with emphysema, I know he was incredibly touched by the strength of support expressed by friends and the public."
"He has a unique and special place in the hearts of so many. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go to his family at this sad time."
Tributes to the actor have been paid by his colleagues and admirers on Twitter. Stephen Fry tweeted: "Oh no, I’ve just heard the news that Richard Briers has died. How sad. He was the most adorable and funny man imaginable."
Philip Schofield wrote: "So sad that we've lost the dignified and delightful Richard Briers. A genuinely lovely man with timing better than Tag Heuer."
Sir Branagh said: "He was a national treasure, a great actor and a wonderful man. He was greatly loved and he will be deeply missed."
Briers was born on 14 January 1934. He trained at RADA before winning a scholarship to Liverpool Playhouse in 1956.
He married actress Anne Davis later that year and they went on to have two daughters.
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