Peter Sallis dead at 96
The actor was best known for appearing in Last of the Summer Wine and was also famous as the voice of Wallace in Wallace and Gromit.
His agent confirmed he died peacefully with his family by his side.
Sallis played Norman “Cleggy” Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine from its first episode in 1973 until the series concluded in 2010.
He was the only actor to appear in all 295 episodes of the sitcom.
Obituary: Peter Sallis
Peter Sallis was best known as the mild-mannered Norman Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine.
By the time he first appeared in the role he had already carved out a distinguished career in the theatre and on television.
His role as the flat-capped philosopher made him the longest-serving cast member of the much-loved series.
And he reached an even wider audience as the voice of Wallace, the cheese-loving character in the animated Wallace and Gromit films.
Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park led tributes to Sallis, describing him as a “unique character”.
“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,” Park said in a statement.
“Working with him 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.”
Park added: “Peter had naturally funny bones and was a great storyteller and raconteur off stage too and would keep us amused for hours.”
Shane Allen, BBC controller of comedy commissioning, said Sallis would be “fondly remembered for having the most distinctive and well-loved voice in animation”.
Paddy McGuinness paid tribute to the actor on Twitter, writing: “RIP the great Peter Sallis. #CrackingToast” – the hashtag a reference to one of Wallace’s catchphrases.
Allo Allo actress Vicki Michelle tweeted: “Sad to hear about Peter Sallis. Fabulous actor loved by the nation… Somehow ageless, a lovely man.”
In a statement, Jonathan Altaras Associates said: “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 2 June.”
Denville Hall is a retirement home for actors, and is also where Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs died last year.
As other actors came and went in Last of the Summer Wine, Sallis remained one of the programme’s stalwarts as Cleggy, alongside Bill Owen as Compo and Brian Wilde as Foggy Dewhurst.
The Wallace and Gromit films won three Oscars and Sallis often spoke about how glad he was to have such success late in life.
“It is pleasing knowing millions are going to see your work and enjoy it,” he said. “To still be involved in a project like this at my age is heartwarming.
“To have a legacy like this is very comforting. I am very lucky to have been involved.”