Obituary: Brian Wilde
Obituary by Jack Foley
POPULAR television actor Brian Wilde has died at the age of 80, his agent has confirmed.
Wilde was arguably best-known for playing the character Foggy in the long-running comedy series Last Of The Summer Wine alongside Peter Sallis and Bill Owen, but he will also be remembered for his portrayal of Barraclough in prison sitcom Porridge, alongside Ronnie Barker.
Nick Young, his agent, revealed that Wilde died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, March 20, 2008. His son, Andrew, told the Press Association news agency that his father had suffered a fall about seven weeks ago and had not recovered.
Born on June 1, 1921, in Lancashire, and brought up in Devon and Hertfordshire, Wilde attended Richard Hale School before gradually making his way into the entertainment industry.
Early on, he won minor roles in films such as The Jokers (1967) and Carry On Doctor (1968) before taking on the role of ineffectual prison officer Mr Barraclough in Porridge in 1973 – which also enjoyed a big screen outing in 1979.
Porridge is fondly remembered as a comedy classic on TV and ran for three series in total. But it proved a precursor to Wilde’s long success in Last Of The Summer Wine, which he entered in its three series by taking over from Michael Bates as pompous ex-army corporal Walter “Foggy” Dewhurst.
He left in 1985, but rejoined in 1990 and remained with the show until 1997.
Needless to say, his Last Of The Summer Wine colleagues led the tributes.
Surviving co-star Peter Sallis said: “He was great fun to be with and to work with, so I’m very, very sorry to hear the news.”
While series creator Roy Clarke described him as “a wonderful actor”, adding: “He was one of my favourite actors. He was absolutely impeccable with every line. You could give him all sorts of convoluted speech and he never made a fluff. A wonderful actor and a very nice man.”
And the show’s producer Alan JW Bell told the BBC: “He was perhaps the best of the Summer Wine ‘third men’ – he was the most loved of all the characters. He was a fine actor to work with, very professional. He was an old school actor – you turned up, knew your lines and played them the very best you could.”