Yes Minister star and proud 'Berkhamsted boy' Derek Fowlds dies aged 82

From Ashlyns in wartime to fighting crime in Ashfordly, via Basil Brush and Westminister, no one has had a life quite like Derek Fowlds.

The actor, who was always proud of his Berkhamsted roots, died aged 82 at Royal United Hospital in Bath on Friday morning, after having suffered with pneumonia.

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

Fowlds worked on the BBC children's television show as a presenter between 1969 and 1973.

Although he was born in London, Derek first came to Berkhamsted at three years old when the Second World War was raging so that he could live in Hertfordshire with his grandmother.

The Yes Prime Minister star, speaking to the Gazette in 2016, reflected on the moment when he failed his 11-plus and was sent to Ashylns Secondary Modern – a time in his life he recalls with relish.

Derek Fowlds

Derek Fowlds

“I was a cub, a scout, I played football, and I didn’t even see a television until I was 18,” he said.

“I remember waiting for my mum to come home from working at TW Bailey’s bookshop so that I could go to the cinema by myself and sneak in through the toilet windows.”

After his blissful school days Derek admits to being to feeling underwhelmed by the prospect of joining the world of work.

At age 15 he was made an apprentice printer, but after this was interrupted by national service he managed to earn a scholarship at the famous RADA theatrical school

He said: “I was 15 when I left school, and I looked about six. I was apprenticed at the Clunberry Press in town, but I just looked around me and though ‘What am I doing here?’.”

Over six decades on stage and screen – or messing about on set as he puts it – Derek has been best known for three iconic roles.

He was Mr Derek on The Basil Brush Show, beleaguered civil servant Bernard Woolley on both Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, and finally as Sergeant Oscar Blaketon on Heartbeat for 18 years.