He appeared as the gangland boss Harry Grout in just three episodes of the sitcom Porridge with Ronnie Barker, but such was its impact that people, he said, called him Grouty for the next 40 years.
Vaughan’s death today at 93 brought down the curtain on a remarkable theatrical career that had gone from a rep company in Manchester to the cult of Game of Thrones, where he spent four seasons as the blind, scholarly Maester Aemon.
In between, there had been memorable turns as Robert Lindsay’s father in the 1970s comedy, Citizen Smith, and as Felix Hutchinson in the BBC’s epic Our Friends In The North. In that, Vaughan played a character who aged from 47 to 77, disillusioned with the Labour Party, at odds with the younger generation and finally a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease.
His first West End performance had been in 1954, in Moliere’s Le Malade Imaginaire. He decided to stay in London and went into lodgings with his friend Donald Pleasence, with whom he queued for dole money and spent it on tickets to the cricket at Lord’s.
He took a few TV and film roles, usually as the villain, and said: “Luckily I’m not beautiful - otherwise I might have starved”.
His big break came in 1964 when he starred in Joe Orton’s comedy, Entertaining Mr Sloane. It was considered outrageous at the time and caused a sensation.
He was married to the actress Billie Whitelaw for 12 years and later married another actress Lillas Walker, whom he had first met in his repertory days.