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Remembering Peter Sallis

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This week the sad news arrived that the actor Peter Sallis has passed away aged 96. Though to TV fans he will be associated with his role as Cleggy in The Last of the Summer Wine for animation fans he will forever be remembered as the voice of Wallace in Nick Park’s Wallace & Gromit series.

His internationally loved role as the Lancashire inventor is as important to the dynamic of the duo as Gromit’s lack of a voice, with Wallace’s wide mouth done so to accommodate the delivery of Sallis being as important and expressive as Gromit’s eyebrows.

Nick Park had this to say about his relationship with Peter Sallis

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.”

Read Park’s full tribute to the voice of Wallace on the Aardman website here.

Sallis voiced Wallace in the four TV short films, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit feature the TV series Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention. The character of Wallace has been voiced by Ben Whitehead since Sallis retired in 2010.

Before Wallace & Gromit made their debut in A Grand Day Out his warm tone was loaned to the voice of Rat in Cosgrove Hall’s adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and Oh! Mr Toad. 

The success of Wallace & Gromit is in no small part down to the gentle voice and expert delivery of Sallis that will no doubt echo in the ears for generations to come.

Peter Sallis OBE – 1 February 1921 – 2 June 2017

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