Derek Fowlds: Yes Minister and Heartbeat actor dies aged 82

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Fowlds’ character Bernard in Yes Minister was the principal private secretary to politician Jim Hacker

Actor Derek Fowlds, known to millions for playing Bernard Woolley in Yes Minister, has died at the age of 82.

He also played sergeant-turned-publican Oscar Blaketon in ITV police drama Heartbeat for 18 years, and was “Mr Derek” on the Basil Brush show in the 70s.

The actor died at Royal United Hospitals Bath on Friday morning, after having suffered with pneumonia.

“You couldn’t have met a nicer person ever” said his assistant Helen Bennett.

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PA Media

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Fowlds was a long-standing actor on ITV’s Heartbeat

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The BBC’s Yes Minister also starred [L-R] Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington

“He was just a wonderful man and I will miss him terribly.”

She added: “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.”

Born in south London, Fowlds trained at Rada before making his West End debut in The Miracle Worker.

He appeared in several films, including Hotel Paradiso, before working on BBC television as a presenter on the The Basil Brush Show, where he replaced Rodney Bewes.

Basil Brush himself said he is “so desperately sad” at the news, describing the late star as “my best friend forever”.

Fowlds was the last of the remaining original Yes Minister stars, following the earlier deaths of Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington, who he appeared alongside in the BBC political satire from 1980 to 1984, and in Yes, Prime Minister from 1986 to 1988.

He appeared in the police drama series Heartbeat for its entire run of 18 years, first as a local police sergeant, then running the post office after the character retired from the force, before running a pub.

Speaking to The Stage publication last year, Fowlds offered some advice to any budding actors.

“My advice to young actors today would be to work hard whenever you can, but also to have fun and, whatever you do, don’t take yourself too seriously.

“Always remember that an acting career is a marathon, not a sprint, and I wish all of today’s actors good luck with it.”

Fowlds was married twice; first to Wendy Tory and then later to Blue Peter presenter Lesley Judd.

He is survived by sons Jamie and actor Jeremy.

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