Actor Peter Sallis, who was best known as for roles in Last of the Summer Wine and animated cartoon Wallace and Gromit, has died at age 96.
He died peacefully on Friday with his family by his side, his agents 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.,” they said.
Mr Sallis became a household name in the UK as mild-mannered Norman Clegg in the comedy Last Of The Summer Wine, Britain’s longest-running sitcom.
But his role playing loveable inventor Wallace in Nick Park’s animated films made his voice known around the world.
Mr Sallis was born in Middlesex, and initially had little interest in drama, signing up for a career in banking.
It was the Second World War that changed the course of his life.
He joined the RAF, but failed his aircrew medical and instead became a radio instructor in Lincolnshire.
It was there that he began taking part in amateur shows and quickly realised he had found his calling.
He appeared opposite Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Orson Welles, but it was Last of the Sumer Wine that marked his big break.
His work in Wallace and Gromit brought him an even bigger audience – and a role in an Oscar-winning series.
The show’s creator Nick Park said Mr Sallis with much of its success.
“Just the way he pronounces Wensleydale cheese is enough. Once he’s in place, everyone else fits around him,” Mr Park said.
Meanwhile Mr Sallis said he was delighted to be part of a show loved by millions.
“To still be involved in a project like this at my age is heart-warming,” he said.
Mr Sallis was given an OBE for services for drama in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2007.
He said at the time: “I don’t even dream about these things, which is probably just as well…. but it means a lot to me.”
However he had said he as glad that it was his voice, not his face, that was most well known.
“No-one stops me when I speak or when they see me in the street. That’s the way I like it,” he said.