“The action was a series of fights in the ring and I played the boxing second. I had thirty-four entrances and exits, very few lines and a sponge.”
Throughout a career in theatre, television and film spanning over 75 years, actor Peter Vaughan has kept in mind a piece of advice given to him by his father: Always see the ludicrous side of things. This may come as a surprise to those who associate him mainly with menacing, even brutal characters, in everything from Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Many will have fond memories of his portrayal of ‘genial’ Harry Grout in the classic sitcom Porridge, which is ironic since the character only appeared in three episodes. Such was the indelible mark Peter’s performance left on the viewers’ imagination. Still working in his nineties, he has recently gained a whole new generation of fans with his role as Aemon Targaryen in the hugely popular fantasy drama series Game of Thrones.
This autobiography takes us back to describe his upbringing in 1920s Shropshire, the stormy relationship between his parents, his wartime exploits and early career in rep before going on to find fame on stage and screen alongside such notable figures as Celia Johnson, Tallulah Bankhead, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, Tony Hancock and many more. Through it all, that awareness of the ludicrous has perhaps helped to keep Peter sane and certainly contributed to the enormous enjoyment of the work which shines through in this honest and revealing account of his life.