The character actor Peter Vaughan, known for his role as Grouty in the TV sitcom Porridge and more recently as Maester Aemon in Game of Thrones, has died aged 93.
His agent, Sally Long-Innes, said he “died peacefully with his family around him” on Tuesday morning.
Peter Vaughan was a familiar face on British TV, with roles in the comedy Citizen Smith and the drama Our Friends in the North. But he was best known performing alongside Ronnie Barker in the prison sitcom Porridge, playing Harry Grout, the head of HMP Slade’s protection racket.
He only appeared in three episodes of the 1970s comedy but is still remembered for a menacing performance as the prison kingpin running operations from his luxuriously appointed cell, complete with a budgerigar.
“I still get people saying: ‘Let you out, have they, Grouty?’” Peter Vaughan told an interviewer this year.
More recently he won over a new generation of global admirers in the hit HBO fantasy show Game of Thrones, playing the elderly blind character Maester Aemon.
“People talk about Grouty but, good heavens, the fan mail I get from all over the world because of Game of Thrones is enormous,” he told the Sunday Post. “It’s just grown and grown and once you’re hooked, that’s it.”
Brenock O’Connor, the 16-year-old actor who played Olly in the Game of Thrones, paid tribute to Peter Vaughan as a “kind and talented man”.
Deeply saddened to hear that Peter Vaughan has passed away at 93. A kind and talented man. His watch is ended x pic.twitter.com/jOnusxuZ3N
Peter Vaughan’s 75-year acting career included roles in the films Straw Dogs, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Remains of the Day.
He also appeared alongside the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev in the Ken Russell film Valentino.
Peter Vaughan was born Peter Vaughan Olm in 1923 in Shropshire, the son of a bank clerk and a nurse. His early acting career at the Wolverhampton Repertory Theatre was interrupted by the war. After serving as an officer in Normandy and Singapore, he returned to acting in London.
He married his first wife, the actor Billie Whitelaw, in 1952. As she rose to prominence with celebrated parts in Samuel Beckett plays, Peter Vaughan continued to play small parts in minor theatre. She claimed he resented her success. After the couple separated in the early 1960s Peter Vaughan earned more prominent roles. He went on to marry the actor Lilias Walker.
In October, Peter Vaughan told BBC London Radio his favourite role was playing Ed in original cast of Joe Orton’s 1964 play Entertaining Mr Sloane.
“For about two years it was an absolute sensation. Judy Garland came to see it three times. It was a magical time.”
Asked to explain the secret of his long career, he said: “Luck, good wine and beer. I just had a damn good time.”