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Gordon Wharmby and Dame Thora Hird as Wesley and Edie Pegden in "Last of the Summer Wine"
6 November 1933|
Salford, Lancashire, UK
|Died||18 May 2002
Abergele, Conwy, Wales, UK
Gordon Wharmby (6 November 1933 - 18 May 2002) was a British television actor. He was best known for the role of Wesley Pegden on Last of the Summer Wine.
He was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1933, and served in the Royal Air Force during his national service. Wharmby was originally employed as a painter and decorator and had no formal training as an actor. He gained stage experience with Oldham Repertory Theatre and worked part-time as a jobbing actor. Early television roles included bit-parts in programmes such as Bill Brand (1976), The One and Only Phyllis Dixey (1978) and Coronation Street (1982).
He was then auditioned for a one-line part in Last of the Summer Wine, which had begun in 1973, filmed in and around the Yorkshire village of Holmfirth. The producer, Alan J.W. Bell, was so impressed with Wharmby's "natural" performance that, instead, he cast him in the more prominent role of the bumbling Wesley Pegden for another episode and Clarke later wrote him in as a regular. Although initially overawed by working with Thora Hird as his screen wife from 1986, Wharmby eventually started giving her "notes", to the veteran actress's great amusement.
Wharmby made his debut in Last of the Summer Wine in 1982, as Wesley Pegden, the boilersuit wearing, tinkering mechanic and would be inventor. He appeared as a regular cast member for 16 series between 1985 and 2002. Thora Hird played his nagging wife Edie.
In an ever-increasing supporting cast, Wharmby often found himself driving the storylines because of Wesley's penchant for gadgetry. Perhaps the character's greatest hour was informing Compo, Clegg and Foggy, in the 1984 Christmas special, that he had discovered a rare Loxley Lozenge. This led to much waxing lyrical on the part of Foggy as he tried to guess what exactly this was, and he concluded that it must be a medieval cough sweet (it turned out to be a classic car).
Wharmby had small roles in programmes such as Troy Kennedy Martin's nuclear thriller Edge of Darkness (1985), Brookside (1985), All Creatures Great and Small (1988), A Very British Coup (1988), Agatha Christie's Poirot (1990), Heartbeat (1994) and Hetty Wainthropp Investigates (1996).
At his time of death, he had been due to start recording the 23rd series of Last of the Summer Wine.