The great Richard Griffiths, known to the popcorn-eating masses as mean Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films but whom I loved for his legendary History Boys performance as Hector the lecherous professor (which I saw in New York in ’06), has died at age 65.

He died of complications following heart surgery, but let’s face it — he died from the backwash of being too fat. But what an aroma of engagement and crackling intelligence he had (or seemed to have). What a wonderfully alert and alive and richly educated mind, or at least what a splendid ability he had to convey this in various performances.

“During a performance of The History Boys, Griffiths became so annoyed at a man in the audience whose mobile phone rang repeatedly through the play that Griffiths stopped acting after the sixth time and ordered the man out of the theatre. At a later date, Griffiths asked a member of the audience to leave a performance of Heroes after her phone rang three times. This interruption of a performance because of audience distraction happened no fewer than three times in his career.”