Character & Episode:
James Howarth in Never Trust a Ghost
Born: 4/4/1923, Wem, Shropshire, England (as Peter
Died: 6/12/2016, Mannings Heath, West Sussex, England
Though born in Shropshire, Peter
was brought up in Staffordshire where he attended Uttoxeter
Grammar School. Soon after leaving he joined the Wolverhampton
Repertory Theatre, also gaining experience in other repertory
theatres across the country before army service brought a halt
to his acting career. During the war he served in the Army and
was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Corps of
Signals, serving in Normandy, Belgium and the Far East. At the
end of the war, he was in Singapore and present during the
liberation of Changi Prison.
After the war, he resumed acting
but purely in theatre. Then in 1952 he married the well-known
actress Billie Whitelaw (1932-2014). For a while Peter was in
the shadow of the up and coming Billie. He made his screen debut
in 1954 in the TV series Stage by Stage, the first of
more than two hundred film and television appearances. He rose
to become one of Britainís leading character actors.
An early well-known role for Peter
was as the Police Chief in the spy drama The Devilís Agent
(1962). A further role in the film Smokescreen (1964)
gained him wider notice within the industry. He was often cast
as villains; in 1965 he starred with Tallulah Bankhead in the
Hammer Horror Fanatic and two years later he starred
alongside Frank Sinatra in The Outside Man.
Having divorced Billie Whitelaw in
1966, Peter would marry another actress, Lillias Walker Ė the
couple would occasionally act together and remained married
until Peterís death in 2016. A role that people particularly
remember Peter for is his portrayal of Grouty in the BBC
situation comedy Porridge (1974) - though he is also well
remembered for his more dramatic roles, such as in The Gold
Robbers (1969), a series in which he took the lead role.
Peter would remain busy and hugely in demand for both television
and film, until shortly before his death and his final
role was as Maester Aemon Targaryen in the HBO hit series
Game of Thrones between 2011-15.
Peterís stepdaughter Victoria
Burton (1955-), an actress most notable for her role in High
Road as Jennifer Goudie, is married to comedian and actor
Gregor Fisher (1953-). Peter appeared in an episode of Fisher's
popular Rab C Nesbitt series in 1994.