British actor Richard Briers, an avuncular presence on TV and movie screens for decades who appeared in a number of films directed Kenneth Branagh, including as Polonius in “Hamlet,” died at his London home on Sunday. He was 79 and had suffered from emphysema.Briers also starred in 1970s sitcom “The Good Life” as Tom Good, a man who decides to quit the urban rat race for a life of self-sufficiency. It is regularly voted one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time and is still repeated on television. The actor appeared in the Branagh-helmed films “A Midwinter’s Tale,” “Peter’s Friends” and “Frankenstein” as well as Branagh’s cinematic Shakespeare adaptations “Henry V,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Hamlet,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and, most recently, 2006′s “As You Like It.” In 1998 Briers was nominated for a Tony for best actor in a play for his role in a production of Ionesco’s “The Chairs.” On British TV, Briers also starred in comedy-drama “Ever-Decreasing Circles,” Scottish Highlands drama “Monarch of the Glen” and a host of other shows. Most recently he had appeared in two films last year: “Run for Your Wife” and “Cockneys vs. Zombies.” Briers was born in Merton, Surrey, and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts from 1954-56. Survivors include his wife, actress Ann Davies, and a daughter, actress Lucy Briers.
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