Yesterday I lost one of my great childhood heroes: Peter Sallis. Peter Sallis was one of the stars of a programme called Last of the Summer Wine, a programme about three pensioners who lived in the Yorkshire Dales and behaved like small boys (think firing each other out of cannons and racing down hills in shopping trolleys), which I watched every Sunday afternoon with my siblings. And while those Sunday afternoons are fond memories for me, had Peter Sallis only been in Last of the Summer Wine, I doubt my heart would have skipped a beat yesterday when I heard of his death.
In 1989 a new animated feature came to the television, featuring Wallace, a nervous inventor from Yorkshire, and his faithful, silent, dog Gromit, whose powers of observation were far greater than those of Wallace's. The programme was called A Grand Day Out and the plot followed Wallace building a rocket in his basement, then blasting to the moon to go and find some cheese for a picnic. I loved that programme and those that followed: The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave and a full-length film called The Curse of the Were Rabbit.* Watching the episodes was always a highlight of bank holiday weekends, when they would be shown mid-afternoon and we would try and get home from days out in time to watch them together as a family. These programmes inspired me to build with plasticine (modelling clay), make animated videos, invent things and draw blueprints. I owned a lot of Wallace and Gromit merchandise - annuals, jigsaws, a t-shirt featuring Gromit sat up in bed knitting, even Christmas crackers than contained models of the all characters. While a lot of my love for these programmes and characters is down to Nick Park and Aardman Animation, it I can also be credited to Peter Sallis, who voiced Wallace, perfect with his nervous Yorkshire accent (which I found out yesterday, after Sallis' death was not in fact Peter Sallis' natural voice but the one he decided would work best for the character), and for that reason will always be fondly remembered by me.
So farewell Peter, and with you Wallace. You shall both be missed.
|Image source: http://www.wallaceandgromit.com/films/a-grand-day-out Copyright remains with the copyright holder.|
*There is also a fourth half-hour long feature that I totally forgot about when drafting this post - A Matter of Loaf and Death.