Bill Owen and Peter Sallis, Last of the Summer Wine’s Compo and Clegg, forged a bond not only with each other but with the West Riding landscape across which the series was shot.
Yesterday, seven months after Sallis’s death at 96, locals in Holmfirth tended to their graves – side-by-side in a village churchyard.
Sallis had said privately, after Owen’s funeral in 1999, that he wanted to be buried alongside his old friend. Owen had picked the spot 20 years earlier during a break in filming, as the two sat on a hill overlooking the church.
Sallis’s funeral last summer was a small, private affair, and the details of his final resting place have only just emerged. A permanent headstone has yet to replace the temporary cross that marks the spot.
Andrew Bray, a greengrocer in Holmfirth and a friend of Owen, said: “Peter wanted to be by the side of his friend even though they were both Londoners.
“Bill and Peter were like brothers. They did not always see eye to eye but they were great friends.
“Bill always said he loved Holmfirth. Peter was more quiet but he loved the valley as well and his closeness to Bill has brought them both back here.”
Sallis starred in all 295 episodes of the show during its 37-year run, the longest in the world for a TV comedy.
Mr Bray said the actor had telephoned him after Owen’s funeral, having decided that he wanted a plot in the same churchyard.
“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 request,” he said. “I like to think it is a final thank you to the town that they both are buried here.”
Rev Keith Griffin, vicar of St John’s Church, said: “People knew it was Peter’s final wish to be buried here so we were able to carry that out for the family.”