7 Dec 2016

Game of Thrones star Peter Vaughan dies

10:19 am on 7 December 2016

British actor Peter Vaughan, known for his role in Game of Thrones, has died at the age of 93.

Peter Vaughan in The Mother (2003).

Peter Vaughan Photo: AFP / Kobal / The Picture Desk

In the UK he was famous for his part as menacing villain Harry Grout in the 1970s prison sitcom Porridge - despite the fact he only appeared in a handful of episodes.

More recently Vaughan played the role of blind sage Maester Aemon Targaryen in the HBO TV series Game of Thrones - attracting a new generation of fans.

Vaughan began acting in the 1950s and became a recognisable face by playing numerous mainly supporting roles on stage, television, radio and film.

He specialised in characters with a tough edge - such as police officers, secret agents and authoritarian elders. He described himself as a character actor, saying he did not have the looks to play romantic leads.

Peter Vaughan, left, played ageing butler William Stevens, the father of Anthony Hopkins's character in the film The Remains of the Day.

Peter Vaughan, left, in the role of ageing butler William Stevens, the father of Anthony Hopkins's character in the film The Remains of the Day. Photo: AFP / Photo12.com - Collection Cinema / Photo12

"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."

He was never out of work for long, but Vaughan was not overly fond of only being recognised for Porridge.

"It bores me rigid," he once said. "I only did about four episodes and the film but never has a role been written that has had more impact."

Game of Thrones brought him a new level of fame with a younger audience at the age of 86, and he remained in the show for five years.

"I've been so lucky with parts," he told the BBC in one of his last interviews, in November.

"They talk about actors resting. The only time I have ever rested in my 77 years as an actor has been when I've wanted to. Lucky, lucky, lucky."

Those paying tribute included Blackadder actor Tony Robinson, who wrote on Twitter: "An amazing actor. I'll never forget his performance in Our Friends in the North."

Actress Kathy Burke posted a photo of Vaughan with Ronnie Barker in the TV series.

Vaughan was married to actress Billie Whitelaw for 14 years until 1966 and then married Lillias Walker.

He was father-in-law of Gregor Fisher, the actor best known for playing comic character Rab C Nesbitt.