Peter Vaughan, best known for his roles in Porridge and Game Of Thrones, has died today aged 93, his agent said.
The actor, who had a career in theatre, television and film spanning more than 75 years, died this morning, surrounded by his family.
During his career, Vaughan worked alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins, Frank Sinatra and Ronnie Barker.
He will be best remembered for his portrayal of ‘genial’ Harry Grout in the classic sitcom Porridge, despite only appearing in three episodes.
He went on to gain himself a whole new generation of fans with his role as Aemon Targaryen in the fantasy drama series Game of Thrones.
His many other roles included parts in TV shows Citizen Smith – in which he played the authoritarian father of Robert Lindsay’s girlfriend – and as the ageing butler William Stevens in Merchant Ivory’s film The Remains of the Day.
His agent Sally Long-Innes said: ‘This is to confirm that very sadly Peter Vaughan passed away at approximately 10.30 this morning. He died peacefully with his family around him.’
Vaughan made his mark on the acting world as villain Harry ‘Grouty’ Grout – the head of HMP Slade protection racket – in Porridge alongside Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale.
He was appearing in a play when he was asked to take on the role.
‘I still get people saying ‘Let you out, have they, Grouty?” the actor said more than 40 years later.
‘I was in just three episodes and, of course, the feature film, so I have to thank the writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais for the fact I’m one of the characters people always remember when they talk about Porridge because Grouty is so prominent – even though I’m not there.
‘Everybody’s frightened to death of him, so they talked about him a lot and so it was a huge character but I didn’t have to be there,’ he previously told the Sunday Post.
Vaughan was also known for 1970s TV series Citizen Smith and later, Our Friends In The North, playing Felix Hutchinson, Christopher Eccleston’s character’s father.
Alongside Mark Strong, Gina McKee and Daniel Craig, Vaughan played ‘a hard nut with Alzheimer’s’, a role which earned him a Bafta nomination.
Describing it as his best experience in TV, he said after: ‘The great thing about it from my point of view was being able to show people the terrible Alzheimer’s Disease.
‘As Felix, over the course of four decades, I was able to go from a hard nut right the way through the various stages of that illness and it was really the first time it had been brought seriously to notice.
‘It was a great privilege to play that part, it blazed the trail.’
He also appeared in 1967 spy thriller The Naked Runner, starring Frank Sinatra.
‘The great thing about Frank was that you had to stand up to him very quickly. If you did that, he respected you, otherwise he’d walk all over you,’ Vaughan said.
But recently it was starring in Game Of Thrones, as the former leader of the Night’s Watch, which made him famous to millions around the world.
The actor was partially sighted and portrayed the blind character for five years.
Speaking of that role, he said: ‘People talk about Grouty but, good heavens, the fan mail I get from all over the world because of Game of Thrones is enormous.
‘It’s just grown and grown and once you’re hooked, that’s it.’
Born in Shropshire in April 1924, Vaughan was the son of a bank clerk and nurse. Vaughan’s parents did not have a happy marriage and he spent his younger years as something of a loner, an experience that left him emotionally repressed.
He went to school in Uttoxeter before joining the Wolverhampton Repertory Theatre.
But his time in touring theatre was was interrupted during the war when he was called up to the army.
He saw service as an officer in Normandy and Belgium, before being transferred to the Far East.
Vaughan began his career on the stage, excelling in roles as the menacing villain, and did not get a break onto the screen until 1959, when he was well into his thirties.
Vaughan described himself as a character actor, saying he did not have the looks to play romantic leads.
‘If you’re a character actor, you don’t need to wait for the next leading role,” he once said.
‘But if you are a leading man you have to wait for the next part. Sometimes that means long periods without work.’
At the time of his death, he lived with his second wife Lillias Walker, whom he met in his repertory days, in Mannings Heath, West Sussex.
He was married to actress Billie Whitelaw for 12 years.