It's been a terrible few days; first the news that one of my favourite character actors Bernard Gallagher had passed away, and now it's announced that Peter Vaughan, another of my favourites, has also died at the age of 93.
The versatile character actor was famous for a host of roles in a career that stretched back to the 1950s. Often cast as the villain, Vaughan would use his physical heft to strike an intimidating presence on both the big and small screen, but he could also play heroes too and had a natural warmth and air of benevolence. His film roles included the starring role in the B movie Smokescreen, Village of the Damned, Sapphire, The Punch and Judy Man (opposite Tony Hancock), The Naked Runner (opposite Frank Sinatra), Ken Russell's Savage Messiah, Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, The Blockhouse (opposite Peter Sellers), The Mackintosh Man (opposite Paul Newman), The Razor's Edge, the Terry Gilliam films Time Bandits and Brazil, Face, Death at a Funeral and Is Anybody There? (opposite Michael Caine)
Vaughan was equally prolific on television; amongst a host of guest roles in a variety of programmes throughout his long career, he will be best remembered for his performances in two classic 1970s sitcoms Porridge and Citizen Smith. In the latter he played the thick-headed Yorkshireman father of Cheryl Hall, who disapproved deeply of her relationship with Robert Lindsay's eponymous would-be revolutionary, whilst the former saw him play Slade Prison's criminal mastermind, 'Genial' Harry Grout, a role he would repeat in the big screen spin off movie of 1979. He also played the 'Godfather'-like patriarch of a large London family in Fox (1980) which starred Ray Winstone, Bernard Hill, Derrick O'Connor, Larry Lamb and Eamon Boland as his sons, and starred as Christopher Eccleston's father and veteran of the Jarrow Marchers in the landmark 1996 BBC series Our Friends In The North. He was mostly recently seen on our TV screens as Maester Aemon of The Night's Watch in Game of Thrones.