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Good Life actor - Richard Briers
TOWN thespians have paid tribute to much-loved comedy star Richard Briers who died this week.
The Good Life actor was the patron of Ledbury Amateur Dramatic Society and he opened the town’s new theatre as its VIP guest.
The Market Theatre’s artistic director, Paul Graham and his wife Elaine remembered the star with affection.
He said: “It’s very sad to hear he’s gone. He was obviously very supportive of this theatre.
“We stayed in touch, exchanging Christmas cards, and I heard he was ill before Christmas.
“He was a really nice person, and his death seems very sudden.”
On his first visit, in 1999, he formally accepted the keys to Market Theatre, as its patron and opened the theatre the following year.
His last visit came in 2004, when an audience enjoyed the fund-raising event, An Evening with Richard Briers.
Mr Briers played to a packed house and charmed and enchanted the audience for almost two hours.
He surprised the audience by saying he did not think Tom Good, his character in The Good Life, was ultimately a likeable character – because he roped others, including his wife, into his selfish vision and used his friends’ goodwill to survive.
Mr Briers was an enthusiast of Victorian theatre and on the night he was able to give a convincing impersonation of the great thespian Henry Irving performing his melodrama, The Bells.
But it wasn’t just the older generation he impressed.
A DVD of Peter Pan, signed by Richard Briers, who starred as Smee, has always been the prized possession of Isabella Bills-Geddes, aged 10.
Isabella, the daughter of reporter Gary, could not attend An Evening With Richard Briers in 2004, because she was only two years old.
But her parents managed to chat with the actor in the foyer, and he gladly signed the DVD, writing “Dear Isabella, lots of love, Richard Briers (Smee) X.”
Isabella, who attends Ledbury Primary School, said: “I will always keep the DVD. It has always been special to me, and even more so now.”
Richard Briers died on Monday, at the age of 79, having battled a serious lung condition for a number of years.
PICTURE CAPTION: FOND MEMORIES: Tributes have been paid of the much-loved actor Richard Briers, above, who died this week. Among those who have fond memories of him is Isabella Bills-Geddes, who had her favourite DVD, Peter Pan, signed when Mr Briers visited the Market Theatre in Ledbury in 2004. The DVD now has even more significance.