Last of the Summer Wine actors buried next to each other

Last of the Summer Wine stars Compo and Clegg have been buried next to each other in the town made famous by the popular show.

The two close friends are now side-by-side in St John’s Church graveyard in the iconic Yorkshire town of Holmfirth where they filmed the classic sitcom.

Actors Peter Sallis and Bill Owen became best friends during the 26 years they spent filming the comedy show together before Compo star Bill passed away in 1999.

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Bill had picked the spot where he wanted to be laid to rest 20 years earlier during a break in filming when they were sitting on a hill overlooking the local church and he said: “That’s where I want to be buried.”

His wishes were carried out and after the funeral Peter, also famous as the voice of Wallace in the Wallace and Gromit films, said he wanted to be buried next to his old mate.

He lived another 18 years but his wishes were also carried out when he passed away last June aged 96 at at Denville Hall - a care home for actors in Northwood, London

Local greengrocer Andrew Bray, a lifelong pal of Bill’s who arranged his funeral, said: “Peter wanted to be by the side of his friend even though they were both Londoners.

“It is a very nice end and touching tribute to Last of the Summer Wine that they are together again at last in the beautiful countryside they loved.”

Peter starred in all 295 episodes of the world’s longest running television comedy from 1973 until it ended in 2010.

Bill took over the role of Compo shortly after it began and they soon became close friends.

Andrew revealed that Peter phoned him after the service for Bill, when he died aged 85 in 1999, to say he also wanted to be buried in the same churchyard.

He said: “I first met Bill when I was 11 and he asked me the way to his hotel.

“We became good friends and I organised his funeral. Peter later rang to say he also wanted to be buried in that churchyard.

“I passed his request over to the vicar and thought no more about it.

“The plot has stood empty all these years, the vicar who buried Bill has passed away and I never heard anything more about it.

“But I then learned that Peter’s son had carried out his father’s request.”

Peter’s son Crispian, an award-winning film artist who worked on Aliens and Gladiator, arranged a small, private service for the burial in the churchyard of St John’s after his dad died in June.

Andrew, who is now 57, said: “It was a very quiet funeral. I understand there were just three mourners - Peter’s son, a producer from Last of the Summer Wine and one other person.

“Bill and Peter were like brothers. Like brothers, they did not always see eye to eye but they were great friends.

“Peter was not as outgoing as Bill and kept himself to himself.

“Bill always said he loved Holmfirth. Peter was more quiet about what he thought but he loved the valley as well and his closeness to Bill has brought them both back here.”

A permanent headstone has yet to be placed on Peter’s grave but a temporary cross marks his final resting place with the simple message: “Peter Sallis OBE 1921 - 2017”.

Bill’s gravestone reads: “Here lies Wm J Owen Rowbotham. Actor, Playwright 14.03.1914 - 12.07.1999”.

Bill’s real name was William John Owen Rowbotham.

Vicar of St John’s, the Rev Keith Griffin, said: “People knew it was Peter’s final wish to be buried here so we were able to carry that out for the family.

Andrew said: “I like to think it is a final thank you to the town that they both are buried here, that they keep the Last of the Summer wine Legacy alive.

“At Christmas we had a couple visit from Ireland to see their graves.

“We also have a lot of American tourists visit because it’s big over there.

“Their burial here is testament to how much the programme created a Last of the Summer wine family.

“All the locals were involved and we all became great friends.

“There are still some of the camera crew and actors who still live around here.

“The programme came at a great time for the town, it was as the textile industry was coming to an end and the town was looking tired.

“The show gave it a much needed boost, something that still exists today.

“We are proud that such important characters from the show get to remain here.”