Peter Sallis was best known for playing Norman Clegg in the long-running BBC Sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, a part he played from the series debut in 1973 until the final story in 2010, appearing in every one of the 295 episodes. In later life, he was famous as the voice of Wallace, the eccentric inventor in the Aardman Animations series of films.
Sallis appeared in the 1967 Doctor Who story The Ice Warriors, playing Penley, the rebel scientist who helped the Second Doctor defeat the Martian menace. He was due to return to the series in 1983 to play Striker in the fifth Doctor story Enlightenment but when industrial action delayed filming he was no longer available and Keith Barron took the role.
Peter Sallis was born on 1 February 1921 in Twickenham, Middlesex, England. After attending Minchenden Grammar School in North London, Sallis went to work in a bank. After the outbreak of World War II he joined the RAF. He failed to get into aircrew because he had a serum albumin disorder and he was told he might black out at high altitudes. He became a wireless mechanic instead and went on to teach radio procedures at RAF Cranwell.
Sallis started as an amateur actor during his four years with the RAF when one of his students offered him the lead in an amateur production. His success in the role caused him to resolve to become an actor after the war, and so he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, making his first professional appearance on the London stage in 1946.
He appeared in many British films in the 1950's and 60's such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Doctor in Love, The Curse of the Werewolf, The V.I.P.s, Charlie Bubbles, Scream and Scream Again, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Wuthering Heights, The Incredible Sarah and The Day of the Triffids.
His first notable television role was as Samuel Pepys in the 14 part BBC serial of the same name in 1958. Other roles followed including an episode of The Persuaders and the BBC comedy series The Culture Vultures
In 1973 Sallis was cast in a one-off pilot for Comedy Playhouse entitled The Last of the Summer Wine, as the unobtrusive lover of a quiet life, Norman Clegg. The pilot was successful and the BBC commissioned a series, and it became the world's longest running comedy series, and the role he was best known for.
In the 1980's he started to get a reputation for voice work and in 1989 he first voiced the character of Wallace in the short film A Grand Day Out. The film won a BAFTA award and was followed by the Oscar-winning films The Wrong Trousers in 1993 and A Close Shave in 1995.
Sallis was awarded the OBE in the 2007 Birthday Honours for services to Drama
Sallis died peacefully, with his family by his side, at the Denville Hall nursing home in Northwood, London, on 2 June 2017. He is survived by his son Crispian and two grandchildren.