22 June 2012 8:26 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

I couldn't have known, as my late husband and I brushed past the figure in the front row of a Hair rehearsal in 1968 at the Cambridge theatre, that the man-imp who gently prodded me would become one of my closest pals. Victor Spinetti soon invited us to his soirees, where his partner, Graham, prepared meatloaf for literary and showbiz friends.

Vic cherished friends and family. When Joan Littlewood and I visited him on tour, he gazed adoringly at her with the same look he would turn on his ebullient mum, Lil. However long between meetings or emails (after I introduced him to the internet), he would shed the performer's facade to reveal the real Vic. Or "The Old Vic", as he called himself, facing the passing of time with grace and laughter.

Only those close to him saw the pain, vitriol and vulnerability which informed his comedy. He could be bitter, »

- Beth Porter

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