Yes Minister and Basil Brush star Derek Fowlds dies aged 82

17 January 2020, 10:52

Derek Fowlds has died aged 82
Derek Fowlds has died aged 82. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Yes Minister star Derek Fowlds has died at the age of 82, his family has said.

The actor was best known for playing Private Secretary Bernard Woolley in the sitcom and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister, as well as for his role as Oscar Blaketon in the long-running police drama Heartbeat.

The actor died at Royal United Hospitals Bath in the early hours of Friday 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.

(left to right) Derek Fowlds, Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington in Yes, Minister
(left to right) Derek Fowlds, Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington in Yes, Minister. Picture: PA

He was previously married to Wendy Tory and Blue Peter presenter Lesley Judd.

Mr Fowlds kept youngsters entertained from 1969 to 1973, starring opposite famous puppet Basil Brush.

The show paid an emotional tribute to Mr Fowlds, with a tweet from 'Basil' saying: "I don’t know what to say, I’m so desperately sad. Such times we had, rest in peace Mr Derek, my best friend forever."

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."

Fellow actor and former colleague Larry Lamb paid tribute to Fowlds on Twitter, writing: "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 LL"

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."

Before appearing in Yes Minister, he found fame with children as 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's 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 the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

He made his West End debut in The Miracle Worker before roles in films such as Tamahine, East Of Sudan and Hotel Paradiso and TV series including Z Cars, The Liver Birds and ITV Sunday Night Theatre.

He also appeared 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.