Credit: Shutterstock/Richard Beckinsale

When I decided to become an actor, it wasn't actually to make money or to make a living. I wanted to be an actor because I wanted to act

Richard Beckinsale was only 31 when he died, but he had been a household name for almost a decade. With his career already showing such promise, it’s tempting to wonder just what he would have gone on to achieve.

Richard’s most famous role was as the hapless Leonard Godber, the first-time convict taken under the wing of his more experienced cellmate Norman Fletcher, in TV’s Porridge. The 1970s comedy is still broadcast on TV today.

The actor was already a sitcom veteran having starred opposite Sally Thomsett in The Lovers and as Rigsby’s slightly bohemian tenant Alan in the hugely popular Rising Damp.

Although he’d been feeling unwell filming a new sitcom in early 1979, doctors could find nothing wrong with Richard. Colleagues were concerned a week later though, when he didn’t turn up for a rehearsal. The actor had died in his sleep of a heart attack – it was later revealed he’d had an undiagnosed heart condition.

He left a legacy in the acting careers of his daughters Samantha and Kate Beckinsale, while it is a tribute to his work that he remains instantly recognisable to many viewers who still enjoy his work today.