James Grout, the respected film and TV actor who used to write a regular column for the Gazette & Herald, has died at the age of 84.

Mr Grout lived in Malmesbury and his weekly reminiscences, published in the 1980s, were among the first pages that readers turned to.

He is probably best known for his role as Inspector Morse’s boss on the long-running TV series with another Wiltshire resident, John Thaw, but the list of his work is long and prestigious.

Mr Grout was born in London, the second son of William and Beatrice Anne. His father, who owned and managed a chain of shoe shops, died in the Second World War in service as a special constable.

Mr Grout won a scholarship to RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, his time there punctuated by National Service with the RAF in Wiltshire, where he trained as a radar mechanic but concentrated on amateur theatricals in one of the aircraft hangars.

In 1950 he worked at the Old Vic, where he played Valentine in Twelfth Night, and moved onto the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford upon Avon.

He first worked with John Thaw on the TV series Redcap in the 1960s and he played many major roles in productions in London’s West End. His increasing rotundity secured him a line of parts as pompous authority figures, culminating in the role of Chief Superintendent Strange in Morse.

His other TV credits include Jonas Bradlaw in Murder Most English (1977), Superintendent Rafferty in Turtle’s Progress, Divisional Superintendent Albert Hallam in Juliet Bravo (1981), The Doctor in Shelley (1982), Mr McAllister in The Beiderbecke Affair (1984), Prof George Bunn in A Very Peculiar Practice (1986), Granville Bennett in All Creatures Great and Small and Mr Justice Ollie Oliphant in Rumpole of the Bailey.

In 1977 he and his wife Noreen, who he had known since schooldays, moved to Malmesbury, where they lived ever since.

He died peacefully at the Ashgrove Nursing Home in Purton on June 24 and his funeral is due to take place on Monday at Westerleigh Crematorium near Bristol at 2pm.