Wallace and Gromit star Peter Sallis dies, aged 96
Peter Sallis has died at the age of 96.
His agents confirmed that the actor passed away peacefully with his family by his side on Friday (June 2).
Sallis was best known for voicing Wallace in the Wallace and Gromit series, and for playing Norman 'Cleggy' Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine.
Having already had a long and successful career in television and theatre, Sallis became a household name thanks to playing the dependable Cleggy, a role he kept for over three decades. He was the only actor to appear in all 295 episodes of the long-running sitcom.
Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, has released a statement paying tribute to his "first and only choice for Wallace".
"I'm so sad, but feel so grateful and privileged to have known and worked with Peter over so many years," he wrote. "He was always my first and only choice for Wallace. I knew him of course from the very popular long running BBC series Last of the Summer Wine. 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. He had naturally funny bones and was a great storyteller and raconteur off stage too and would keep us amused for hours. He could make the simplest incident sound hilarious – just by the way he said it.
"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 1980's, when we first recorded together, when neither of us had any idea what Wallace & Gromit might become.
"Peter's unique, charming quality, together with oversized vowels and endearing performance, helped me fashion Wallace from the beginning; the way he first said 'We've forgotten the Crackers Gromit' and 'Cracking toast Gromit' or just 'Cheeeese!' soon lead to Wallace's enormous 'coat-hanger mouth'.
"They don't come along very often like Peter Sallis – he was a unique character, on and off screen, and an absolute honour to have known him."
Also honouring the late star is BBC director general Tony Hall, who said: "Alongside Last of the Summer Wine, Peter Sallis featured in many of the BBC's most popular programmes. He was a marvellous actor - who could forget that remarkable voice? Peter will be greatly missed by his many fans. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."
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