Credit: Shutterstock/Richard Griffiths

It’s better if you’re still peaking when you’re 60, which I feel I am

Actor Richard Griffiths was best known for playing two uncles: washed up Uncle Monty in cult comedy Withnail and I and uncharitable Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films.

Born in Yorkshire, the actor was much loved for his comic instinct and personal warmth and wit. Instantly recognisable too, he refused to be typecast by his physiognomy .

“I’ve always turned down stuff where you had to be fat,” he emphasised. “I may be fat, but that’s not why you play a role. If the guy has to be fat, then I say get someone else, because I’m not doing any fat acting.”

Richard’s route into acting began after he left school aged 15 and began taking drama classes. He’d grown up in a working-class family and both his dad – a steelworker – and mum were deaf, so conversations at home had been through sign language. There was no TV or radio and Richard later described the poverty he’d grown up in, as “Dickensian.”

His professional career began with bit-parts in film, but it was on the stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1970s that he really made his mark as a leading character actor. A decade later, he was taking on big roles in films including Chariots of Fire, while on TV he became a household name as a retired cop turned sleuthing chef, in comedy drama Pie in the Sky.

He took on the role of teacher Douglas Hector in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys on both stage and big screen and received widespread acclaim for his performance.

Whenever he put in an appearance on stage or screen, Richard’s presence was always a welcome sight and you knew you were in for a treat.