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Peter Sallis dead: Wallace and Gromit voice actor dies aged 96

The Independent logo The Independent 05/06/2017 Rachael Pells

(British actors Peter Sallis, Bill Owen and Michael Bates, from left to right, share a drink while in costume as their characters in the long-running BBC comedy series 'Last Of The Summer Wine'.)

Last of the Summer Wine actor Peter Sallis, who was also famous as the voice of Wallace in Wallace and Gromit, has died aged 96.

He passed away peacefully, with his family by his side, his agents announced.

Jonathan Altaras Associates said in a statement: “It is with sadness that we announce that our client Peter Sallis died peacefully, with his family by his side, at Denville Hall on Friday, June 2.”

Mr Sallis was best known for playing Norman Clegg in the comedy Last Of The Summer Wine, Britain's longest-running sitcom.

But his role as loveable inventor Wallace in Nick Park's animated films made his voice known around the world and led him to become a Hollywood star.

The Wallace And Gromit films scooped two Oscars, a success Sallis said he was delighted to have so late in life.

“It is pleasing knowing millions are going to see your work and enjoy it. To still be involved in a project like this at my age is heart-warming,“ he said.

”To have a legacy like this is very comforting. I am very lucky to have been involved.“

Mr Park, whose Wallace and Gromit films The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995) were both Oscar winners, paid tribute to Mr Sallis, who died in the Denville Hall retirement home for actors in Northwood, north west London.

He said: “I'm so sad, but feel so grateful and privileged to have known and worked with Peter over so many years. He was always my first and only choice for Wallace.”

He added: “He brought his unique gift and humour to all that he did, and encapsulated the very British art of the droll and understated.

”Working with Peter was always a delight and I will miss his wry, unpredictable humour and silliness - that started the moment he greeted you at the door, and didn't stop when the mic was switched off.“

Allo Allo actress Vicki Michelle tweeted: “Sad to hear about Peter Sallis. Fabulous actor loved by the nation... Somehow ageless, a lovely man.”

Before Wallace, Sallis was synonymous with Last Of The Summer Wine, Britain's longest-running sitcom.

It started life as a Comedy Playhouse pilot in 1972 and became a series in 1973.

Sallis was part of the original cast, playing mild-mannered Norman Clegg along with Bill Owen as Compo and Brian Wilde as Foggy Dewhurst.

The Yorkshire-based sitcom turned the trio, and Kathy Staff, who played Nora Batty, into household names.


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