Goodbye Bernard: Legendary Yes Minister actor Derek Fowlds passes away
Photo: Yes Minister/Video screengrab

British actor Derek Fowlds, best known for his role in Yes Minister, died at the age of 82.

Derek Fowlds became an instantly recognisable character across the world thanks to his portrayal of Bernard Woolley in the sitcom Yes Minister and its sequel Yes Prime Minister.

He also played Oscar Blaketon in the police drama Heartbeat. The Guardian reported that he died at the Royal United Hospitals Bath in the early hours of Friday morning after suffering from pneumonia.

He was a fixture on television screens in Britain and on YouTube clips across the globe for his portrayal of Bernard Woolley, the Minister’s secretary. Along with the late Paul Eddington (portraying Jim Hacker) and the late Sir Nigel Hawthorne (portraying Humphrey Appleby), Fowlds formed a triumvirate of talented actors in a show that is still held up as the epitome of classic British comedy.

He often found himself as the conduit between Humphrey and Jim Hacker and it was hard to tell where his loyalties lie – with the civil service or his own minister.

In 2004, Armando Iannucci commented that Fowlds had a difficult task because he would have to spend many hours simply listening to his two co-actors trade insults before coming up with the cleverest line.

A perfect example was this exchange:

Hacker: Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers: the Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country; the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; the Financial Times is read by people who own the country; the Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?

Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.

Fowlds also starred in several other films but it’s the role of the pedantic civil servant which will continue to make him immortal.

Goodbye Sir Bernard Wooley, you certainly never became a moral vacuum.

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