British actor Peter Sallis, best known more recently for being the voice of Aardman’s cheese-obsessed Wallace, has died peacefully at age 96.
There was, however, much more to Sallis’ career than just giving voice to Gromit’s plasticine pal.
After starting out in a bank and moving onto the RAF during World War II, Sallis attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He first appeared on TV in a 1947 TV movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Sallis was a TV regular, as well as appearing in several stage productions – including heading to Broadway in 1964 where he played Dr Watson in Baker Street. Bit parts included appearances in The Avengers, Doctor Who, The Persuaders!, Callan and Rik Mayall’s The New Statesman.
It was his role as Mr Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine, however, that many remember Sallis most for. The series first aired in1973 and carried through to 2010. It was an extraordinary 37-year run, and Sallis appeared in all 295 episodes.
Meanwhile, in 1984, Sallis voiced Rat in the TV adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, a taste of things to come with animated voicework. 1989’s A Grand Day Out was the first outing for Sallis as Wallace who, of course, has since become a character beloved by young and old the world over in follow-ups such as The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, A Matter of Loaf and Death and the feature-length Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
In a tribute to Sallis, Aardman creator Nick Park has posted on aardman.com: “When I look back I’m so blessed and fortunate that he had the generosity of spirit to help out a poor film school student back in the early 1980s. They don’t come along very often like Peter Sallis – he was a unique character, on and off screen, and it was an absolute honour to have known him.”
Vale Peter Sallis.