Tuesday, 6 December 2016

RIP Peter Vaughan

To those of us who grew up watching British TV in the Seventies Peter Vaughan was one of those actors you instantly recognised. He had a remarkable, lived-in look, and could play almost any kind of character with great aplomb. I don't think I ever saw him miscast. But there were three roles that defined him for me.

Two were in comedies. He played a grumpy, lower middle-class conservative in Citizen Smith, opposite Robert Lindsay's young revolutionary. He was even better as Genial Harry Grout, the gangster overlord of Slade Prison in the Ronnie Barker sitcom Porridge. In both roles Vaughan showed a natural flair for comedy, always just on the right side of realism, never quite making either character a simple grotesque.

But, for fans of supernatural fiction, his best role was in the classic Christmas ghost story 'A Warning to the Curious', arguably the best of the Lawrence Gordon Clark adaptions of M.R. James tales. He was one of those actors who lifted the spirits, and I was always delighted to spot him in something new. Imagine my pleasure when he turned up in Game of Thrones as a venerable mentor with a murky past. Anyway, here he is in an obscure drama based on not one but two classic ghost stories by Ambrose Bierce and A.M. Burrage. Raise a glass to a fine actor, and enjoy.

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