Peter Vaughan (born Peter Ewart Ohm; 4 April 1923 – 6 December 2016) was an English character actor known for many supporting roles in British film and television productions.[1] He also acted extensively on the stage.

Peter Vaughan
Peter Ewart Ohm

(1923-04-04)4 April 1923
Wem, Shropshire, England
Died6 December 2016(2016-12-06) (aged 93)
EducationUttoxeter Grammar School
Years active1931–2016
(m. 1952; div. 1966)
  • Lillias Walker

He is perhaps best known for his role as Grouty in the sitcom Porridge and its 1979 film adaptation. Other parts included a recurring role alongside Robert Lindsay in the sitcom Citizen Smith, Tom Hedden in Straw Dogs, Winston the Ogre in Time Bandits, Tom Franklin in Chancer and Mr. Stevens, Sr. in The Remains of the Day. His final role was as Maester Aemon in HBO's Game of Thrones (2011–2015).

Early life Edit

Vaughan was born Peter Ewart Ohm[2] on 4 April 1923[3] in Wem, Shropshire,[4] the son of a bank clerk, Max Ohm, who was an Austrian immigrant,[5] and Eva Wright, a nurse.[6] The family later moved to Wellington, in the same county, where he began his schooling. Vaughan said that while reciting a poem at infant school in Wellington he first experienced the applause and admiration coming from a good performance.[7] From the age of seven he lived in Staffordshire,[8] where he attended Uttoxeter Grammar School.[6]

After leaving school, Vaughan joined the Wolverhampton Repertory Theatre, and gained experience in other repertory theatres as well, before army service during the Second World War. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Corps of Signals on 9 June 1943,[9] and served in Normandy, Belgium, and the Far East.[3][10] At the end of the war, Vaughan was in Singapore during the liberation of Changi Prison.[6]

Career Edit

Vaughan made his film debut in 1959 in an uncredited role as a police officer in The 39 Steps.[6] He continued for several years to play small parts, including more cameos as policemen in Village of the Damned and The Victors, before gaining his first starring role, in a minor picture called Smokescreen (1964), where he played an insurance assessor investigating a businessman's disappearance in one of the last, and best, of the old-style British B-movies.[6] In 1967, he received second billing opposite Frank Sinatra in the film The Naked Runner. His performance was not well received by one critic who accused him of overacting in his role as a British agent.[11] He played Mr. Freeman in Karel Reisz's 1980 The French Lieutenant's Woman, alongside Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons.[12]

Possibly Vaughan's highest-profile film performance was as the father of Anthony Hopkins's character in The Remains of the Day (1993).[13] He was also cast in Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, but had not shot any material before that project was abandoned. He had previously appeared for Gilliam in Time Bandits and Brazil. Vaughan appeared as a menacing character in Straw Dogs (1971), and with Bill Murray in a film of W. Somerset Maugham's novel The Razor's Edge in 1984. In 1996, he appeared as Giles Corey in The Crucible, and in 1997 he appeared alongside Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone in Face. In 1998, Vaughan played Bishop Myriel in Les Misérables, alongside Liam Neeson. His most unusual role may have been as SS Obergruppenführer Arthur Nebe in the 1994 film of Robert Harris's novel Fatherland.[citation needed]

He appeared in the music video for Kate Bush's song "Experiment IV".[citation needed]

Television Edit

Vaughan became known for his performances on television, including supporting roles in Porridge (as "Genial" Harry Grout) and Citizen Smith as Charles Johnson (his role in the latter series was taken over by Tony Steedman). His role in Porridge brought him a great deal of public recognition despite his character appearing in only three episodes and in the 1979 film of the series.[14] In 1975, he appeared as Tony Kirby in an episode of the hard hitting police drama The Sweeney entitled Stay Lucky, Eh?

He also appeared as "The Fence" in the well known humorous advert for McVities Fruit Shortcake biscuits along with Harry Fowler.

In 1969, Vaughan appeared in Randall and Hopkirk in the episode "Never Trust a Ghost". In the same year, he starred in the thirteen-part London Weekend Television TV series The Gold Robbers. In December 1972, he appeared as Mr. Paxton in the BBC television adaptation of the M.R. James ghost story in A Warning to the Curious,[6] shown as part of their annual series A Ghost Story for Christmas.[15]' In September 1973, he appeared as Quinn in the London Weekend Television TV series The Protectors, in an episode called 'Quinn'.

Vaughan starred as Billy Fox in the Thames Television series Fox (1980).[6] The saga was written by Trevor Preston, directed by Jim Goddard, and produced by Verity Lambert. Other Fox family members were played by Elizabeth Spriggs, Ray Winstone, Larry Lamb, and Bernard Hill. Historical roles Vaughan played include those of Russian foreign minister Alexander Izvolsky in the serial Fall of Eagles (1974), British politician Thomas Inskip in the mini-series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981), the title role in A Last Visitor for Mr. Hugh Peter (1981), and German Nazi figures Kurt Zeitzler in the miniseries War and Remembrance (1988) and Hermann Göring in the Granada Television-PBS docu-drama Countdown to War (1989). He also appeared in many literary adaptations, such as Bleak House (BBC, 1985), in which he played the sinister lawyer Mr. Tulkinghorn, and Our Mutual Friend (BBC Two, 1998). Other television work includes the espionage thriller Codename: Kyril (1988), in a lead role as the head of the KGB.[citation needed]

In 1986, Vaughan appeared in the promotional video for Kate Bush's "Experiment IV" single. In 1991, he played John Turner in an episode of Granada Television's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes titled '"The Boscombe Valley Mystery".[citation needed]

He also appeared in the BBC production of Alan Aykbourn's play 'Season's Greetings' which was broadcast at Christmas 1986, and repeated on BBC 2 some years later. He played the role of Uncle Harvey.

Vaughan later attained particular acclaim for his supporting role as the Alzheimer's sufferer Felix Hutchinson in Our Friends in the North (BBC Two, 1996), a role that garnered a Best Actor nomination at the 1997 British Academy Television Awards.[16] He played the clockmaker George Graham in Longitude, the TV drama adaptation of Dava Sobel's eponymous non-fiction novel about the quest for a means to determine longitude at sea. In 2007 he starred in the television series Mobile, and as Uncle Alfie in the film Death at a Funeral.[17] In 2011 Vaughan starred as Michael Dodd in the BBC courtroom drama Silk.[18] His final role, between 2011 and 2015, was Maester Aemon in the HBO series Game of Thrones.[19][20]

Radio Edit

Vaughan was heard as Superintendent Kirk in the BBC dramatisation of Dorothy L. Sayers' Peter Wimsey novel Busman's Honeymoon, and as Denethor in the 1981 BBC Radio production of The Lord of the Rings.[6] He played Charles Augustus Milverton in a 1993 BBC radio dramatization of the Sherlock Holmes short story.[21]

Stage Edit

Vaughan's first breakthrough role was in 1964 as Ed in Joe Orton's work Entertaining Mr Sloane performed at Wyndham's Theatre.[6]

Personal life and death Edit

The first of Vaughan's two marriages was to Billie Whitelaw, whom he married in 1952 and divorced in 1966.[3][6] His second wife was actress Lilias Walker, with whom he lived in the village of Mannings Heath, in West Sussex, until his death, having previously lived in Crawley.[22] His stepdaughter Victoria Burton (actress and producer) is married to Gregor Fisher.[23]

Vaughan was partially blind in his old age. On 6 December 2016, he died peacefully of natural causes at the age of 93.[24][25]

Filmography Edit

Vaughan appeared in the following films and television series:[1]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "Peter Vaughan". British Film Institute. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  2. ^ "FindMyPast record of birth". Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "'Game of Thrones' Actor Peter Vaughan Dies At Age 93". Yahoo! News. Sunnyvale, California: Yahoo!. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Peter Vaughan Biography (1923–)". Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  5. ^ Peter Vaughan obituary The Guardian, 6 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Obituary: Peter Vaughan". BBC News. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Thrones star, 93, launches memoirs. County-born actor tells how performing bug bit him at school". Shropshire Star. 4 July 2016. p. 16.Report by Mat Growcott.
  8. ^ "Peter Vaughan: Acting Clever", Shropshire Magazine, November 2007 Archived 26 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 22 December 2014
  9. ^ "No. 36080". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 July 1943. p. 3050.
  10. ^ "Obituary: Peter Vaughan". BBC News. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  11. ^ Variety Staff (31 December 1966). "Review: 'The Naked Runner'". Variety. Los Angeles: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  12. ^ Vincent Canby (18 September 1981). "'THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN'". NYTimes.
  13. ^ "'There are unfortunately a lot of us old guys around'". The Spectator. United Kingdom: Press Holdings. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Game of Thrones star Peter Vaughan is still best known for being Porridge's Grouty – Sunday Post". 22 June 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  15. ^ Angelini, Sergio, A Warning to the Curious at the BFI's Screenonline. Retrieved 2010-7-7.
  16. ^ MacDonald, Marianne (16 March 1966). "A hard act to follow". The Independent. London: Independent News & Media (1997–2010). Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  17. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Death at a Funeral | Reelviews Movie Reviews". Reelviews Movie Reviews. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  18. ^ "PBS Masterpiece Review: Silk Episode One". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  19. ^ "Shropshire's Game of Thrones star Peter Vaughan still game « Shropshire Star". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  20. ^ "Game of Thrones? 'It's a hard act to follow' ..." Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  21. ^ "The BBC audio complete Sherlock Holmes".
  22. ^ Page, Sarah (10 April 2017). "Legendary actor to be immortalised at Sussex pub". West Sussex County Times. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Stepdaughter". IMDb. IMDb. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  24. ^ "Peter Vaughan: Thrones and Porridge star dies at 93". BBC News. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  25. ^ "Peter Vaughan, star of Game of Thrones and Porridge, dies aged 93". The Daily Telegraph. London. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.

External links Edit