Yes Minister and Heartbeat star Derek Fowlds has died at the age of 82 with his family round his bedside in the early hours of this morning.
The London-born actor was best known for playing Private Secretary Bernard Woolley in Yes Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister, as well as for his role as Oscar Blaketon in the long-running police drama Heartbeat.
Before that, he found fame with children as Mr Derek on The Basil Brush Show, alongside the glove puppet fox with the catchphrase ‘boom boom!’, in eight series from 1969 to 1973, replacing Rodney Bewes as the presenter.
Derek Fowlds is pictured at the Yes, Prime Minister play at the Gielgud Theatre in London in 2010 (left) and at Sir Nigel Hawthorne’s funeral in Thundridge, Hertfordshire, in 2002 (right)
Fowlds played Sergeant Oscar Blaketon (sitting) in Heartbeat. He is pictured alongside Nick Berry as PC Nick Rowan, Mark Jordan as PC Phil Bellamy and William Simons as PC Alf Ventress
Fowlds was Mr Derek on The Basil Brush Show, alongside the glove puppet fox with the catchphrase ‘boom boom!’, from 1969 to 1973, replacing Rodney Bewes as the presenter
Fowlds as Oscar Blaketon with Tricia Penrose as Gina in the ITV police drama Heartbeat
Basil Brush’s account tweeted: ‘I don’t know what to say, I’m so desperately sad. (two crying emoji and a fox emoji) such times we had, rest in peace Mr Derek, my best friend forever’
The actor died at Royal United Hospitals Bath in the early hours of this morning after suffering from pneumonia that led to heart failure caused by sepsis.
He was surrounded by his family when he died and is survived by sons Jamie and Jeremy.
Helen Bennett, his personal assistant and friend of many years, said: ‘He was the most beloved man to everybody who ever met him, he never had a bad word to say about anybody and he was so well respected, adored by everyone.
‘You couldn’t have met a nicer person ever, he was just a wonderful man and I will miss him terribly.’
Fowlds (right) as Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley in Yes Minister alongside Paul Eddington as James Hacker (left) and Sir Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey Appleby (centre)
Norma Major welcomes Fowlds and his wife to 10 Downing Street in London in December 1996
(Left to right) Derek Fowlds, Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington in Yes Minister
Fowlds (second from left) on the set of the Heartbeat in Goathland, North Yorkshire, in 2008
The cast of ITV’s Heartbeat (back row, left to right) – Fowlds (Sergeant Blaketon), Mark Jordon (PC Bellamy), Nick Berry (PC Nick Rowan), and Bill Maynard (Greengrass), (front row, left to right) Tricia Penrose (barmaid Gina), Juliette Gruber (schoolteacher Jo Weston) and Kazia Pelka (nurse Maggie Bolton), at the launch of the series in London in August 1996
Basil Brush’s account tweeted to say: ‘I don’t know what to say, I’m so desperately sad. (two crying emoji and a fox emoji) such times we had, rest in peace Mr Derek, my best friend forever #DerekFowlds #BasilBrushshow.’
Director Edgar Wright tweeted a clip of Fowlds’ famous Yes Minister scene about the newspaper industry.
He posted: ‘RIP Derek Fowlds AKA ‘Mr Derek’ AKA Sir Bernard Woolley. This is as classic a scene in British comedy as they come.’
Actor Larry Lamb tweeted: ‘A dear old colleague passed on today… Derek Fowlds was a truly lovely man and a fantastic actor… my condolences to all his family and friends… a REAL legend.’
Fowlds is pictured with his Heartbeat co-star Tricia Penrose, who spoke of her sadness today
Fowlds is pictured during a visit to Theatre Royal Windsor on December 3 last month
Former apprentice printer Fowlds got the acting bug after joining a Royal Air Force theatre group while doing his national service in Malta.
He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London with Edward Fox, Tom Courtenay, John Hurt and Ian McShane.
His first professional acting job was appearing in weekly rep at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Colwyn Bay in 1958, while on summer holiday from Rada.
He made his West End debut in The Miracle Worker before roles in films such as Tamahine, East Of Sudan and Hotel Paradiso.
He also appeared in TV series including Z Cars, The Liver Birds and ITV Sunday Night Theatre.
In addition, Fowlds featured in After That, This for a string of episodes in 1975.
He starred in Yes Minister opposite Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington from 1980 to 1984 before the sequel Yes, Prime Minister ran from 1986 to 1988.
He released his autobiography A Part Worth Playing in 2015 and his most recent credited TV appearance was in Doctors in 2017.