(Peter Sallis with Nick Park)
NFTS graduate and Wallace & Gromit creator, Nick Park has paid tribute to actor, Peter Sallis who has passed away aged 96 and was the voice of the much loved Wallace.
Nick created the famous stop motion animation while at the NFTS and recalled Peter’s “generosity of spirit to help out a poor film school student back in the early 1980’s, when we first recorded together, when neither of us had any idea what Wallace & Gromit might become”.
Peter provided the voice for Wallace on Nick’s NFTS graduation film, A Grand Day Out, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1989. Peter continued to voice Wallace for 15 years over various feature, short and video game iterations including Nick’s Oscar winning animations, The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
(Still from A Grand Day Out)
Nick reflected how Peter’s “unique, charming quality, together with oversized vowels and endearing performance” helped him 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’”.
“I’m so sad, but feel so grateful and privileged to have known and worked with Peter over so many years. He was always my first and only choice for Wallace. I knew him of course from the very popular long running BBC series Last of the Summer Wine. He brought his unique gift and humour to all that he did, and encapsulated the very British art of the droll and understated.
“Working with Peter was always a delight and I will miss his wry, unpredictable humour and silliness – that started the moment he greeted you at the door, and didn’t stop when the mic was switched off. He had naturally funny bones and was a great storyteller and raconteur off stage too and would keep us amused for hours. He could make the simplest incident sound hilarious – just by the way he said it.
“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.”
The NFTS continues to work with Aardman Animations (the production studios behind Wallace & Gromit) and inspire new generations of animators through its animation courses including:
Certificate in Character Animation in partnership with Aardman (apply by 8th June)
Directing Animation MA (apply by 6th July)