Acclaimed actor Richard Briers will be making a guest appearance at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal on Monday 13 July to launch a £3.5 million restoration project.

The actor, famed for his role as Tom Good in the 1970s television series, The Good Life and who is also the theatre’s Patron, will be officially launching a major project that will see the restoration of the Grade 1 Listed theatre in readiness for its 175th birthday in 2012.

The theatre will introduce a series of conservation measures to protect the external fabric of the building including the famous Portico on Grey Street, which has been subject to rainwater damage.

Although a new wing was created in 2007, a new phase of restoration is now due to ensure the building is protected and enhanced for the enjoyment of future generations. In the auditorium, new seating will be installed at all levels, new lighting and ventilation systems introduced and major renovations will be made to all fabrics, with new carpeting and paintwork and reinstatement of extensive gold-leaf work present in the Victorian era.

Briers will be guest-of-honour at a dinner for sponsors and Friends of the Theatre, to be held on the stage itself, on Monday evening. He said: “The Theatre Royal is one of our most distinguished theatres with which I have a very long association, having first appeared here in 1958 in Gilt and Gingerbread”.

As an independent charitable trust, a Heritage Fund has been set up to enable members of the public and businesses to contribute to the refurbishment of the theatre. A limited number of patron packages are available, offering seat dedications, invitations to exclusive patron events and various other benefits. The cost of every theatre ticket purchased also includes a contribution to the fund.

Philip Bernays, chief executive of the Theatre Royal, said: “The Theatre is not only one of the most impressive buildings in Britain, but it is also a major monument of civic pride. It has a place in the hearts and minds of every person in the north east and also many further afield. For this reason alone, its restoration is of vital importance for our present customers and also for the future generations who will inherit this much-loved theatre".