BBC News has reported that Peter Sallis, the man behind the distinctive voice of the animated inventor and cheese lover Wallace in yardman Animation's internationally acclaimed Wallace and Gromit shorts and feature film, has died peacefully at the age of 96.
Sallis' agent confirmed the veteran actors death on Monday, adding that he Sallis died with his family by his side.
The much-loved actor served as a wireless mechanic and instructor at RAF Cranwell during World War II. It was during this time that he first became interested in drama. He began his professional stage career in 1946, later progressing on to TV work and eventually voice acting for animation.
Sallis appeared in the 1967 Doctor Who story "The Ice Warriors," and was one of the actors to provide the voice for Ratty in the stop-motion animated The Wind in the Willows series before going on to lend his vocal talents to Wallace. He voiced the the character in every adventure, from his first appearance in A Grand Day Out in 1989.
Yet, despite the fame and multiple awards his Wallace and Gromit work accumulated, including two Oscars for Best Animated Short and one for Best Animated Feature, the actor was probably best known in the UK for his role in the long-running BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, which focused on the madcap misadventures of a trio of old men in the Yorkshire countryside. Sallis appearing in every one of its 295 episodes between 1973 and 2010 as well as appearing as the father of his own character Norman Clegg in a prequel spinoff series First of the Summer Wine.