‘Keep it going’ Last of the Summer Wine star was determined to finish series before death

Last Of The Summer Wine: Howard hides from Marina

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The late British actor is famous for his role as Norman ‘Cleggy’ Clegg in the nation’s favourite Last of The Summer Wine. The popular sitcom focused on three elderly men Clegg, Foggy (played by Brian Wilde) and Compo Simmonite (Bill Owen) who preferred to stay young and were hellbent on relishing in youthful misadventures. Having appeared in the first episode, Peter’s work ethic was something to behold when he claimed he wanted to appear on the show for as long as possible.

During a special episode of Last of the Summer Wine: 30 Years of Laughs, archive footage showed the late actor reveal how the sitcom had changed his life. 

Speaking in 1999, he said: “It’s transformed my life. 

“Now, I’ve reached the stage where I really don’t want it to end.

“As one by one we drop dead, provided Roy [Clarke] is still alive, they will keep it going.”

Norman was the only member of the friend circle to constantly be active within in his older years as other characters had slowly faded away around him such as Foggy, Cyril Blamire (Michael Bates), Seymour Utterthwaite (Michael Aldridge) and beloved, life-time friend Compo. 

From its 1973 inception until the final episode in 2010, Peter appeared in a total of 295 episodes and still wanted to carry on for longer. 

Peter’s son Crispian Sallis also discussed his father’s ambition to keep appearing on the show even as his health began to deteriorate. 

“My father had spent years telling me that his ambition in life was to never stop working, to have as few lines as possible while sitting down as much as possible and earn as much money as possible,” he recalled. 

“And effectively, the last few series of Summer Wine fitted that bill to an absolute T.”

In the final outing How Not to Cry at Weddings, an audience of 5.71m tuned in to see Howard (Robert Fyfe) and Pearl (Juliette Kaplan) look back at their relationship while preparing for a wedding while Toby (Trevor Bannister) tried to smarten himself up in a bid to win back Monica (Dee Quemby).

The episode was the final acting turn for Peter before his death at the age of 96, in 2017.

In the season finale, Clegg was given the final line on the show, which had been branded very fitting by fans. 

After taking a sip of his beer, Clegg asked: “Did I lock the door?

Born in Middlesex in 1921, Peter caught the acting bug during his wartime service in the RAF.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Peter called acting a “matter of instinct,” saying “as soon as I was on the stage I just felt so at home”.

After his first TV role in 1947, in which he played Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter enjoyed a succession of steady yet minor roles in Z-Cars, The Avengers and Doctor Who. 

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Peter was often praised for his ability to life each character he played, no matter how big or small. 

The TV star’s unassuming face was somehow surprisingly full of expression and he had the comical timing which has continued to entertain viewers. 

Last of the Summer Wine: 30 Years of Laughs is available to stream on My5

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