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“It’s totally my fault. So, I get very breathless, which is a pain in the backside.”

In 1989, Briers was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts.

Among his peers and fans, Briers was much appreciated for his humor and self-deprecating wit. He said of one run in the title role of “Hamlet”: “I may not have been the best Hamlet of my generation but I was certainly the fastest.”

“On the opening night I took 24 minutes off the running time, and I think it must have been the only `Hamlet’ in recent times where people were able to get out to the pub afterwards for a drink,” he said.

Briers married the actress Anne Davies in 1956. They had two daughters.