Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Archers actor Arnold Peters dies

Arnold Peters, pictured with June Spencer, played Jack Woolley in The Archers for more than 30 years (Stuart Wood/BBC/PA )
Arnold Peters, pictured with June Spencer, played Jack Woolley in The Archers for more than 30 years (Stuart Wood/BBC/PA )

Veteran actor Arnold Peters, who was known for his role as Jack Woolley in The Archers for more than 30 years, has died at the age of 87.

His appearances on the show spanned almost 60 years, having first featured in the cast in 1953 and notching up spells as two other characters prior to Jack.

Peters died after suffering from Alzheimer's, a disease which also affected his character - although he continued to perform until July 2011 despite the condition.

His family said he died on Saturday at a home in Northamptonshire.

Peters was diagnosed with Alzheimer's shortly after his character began to suffer from the condition but, despite the toll it was taking on his memory, he was able to continue acting and was said to "come to life" in front of a microphone.

Although he was last heard on July 19 2011 in the show, Jack still survives in the show as a "silent" character, and is regularly visited by his wife Peggy. The Radio 4 series won a Mental Health Media Award for its handling of the Alzheimer's storyline.

Actress June Spencer, who plays Peggy, said: "As an actor he was the complete pro. He was very conscientious. He always turned in a good performance, no matter what we were doing. He loved acting. It was his life. I picture him in the latter days in the green room, with his stick and his cap, always very genial."

Vanessa Whitburn, editor of The Archers, said: "Arnold was immensely successful as Jack Woolley. With enormous skill he took the character from sharp, sometimes ruthless, businessman, mellowing through the years into retirement and eventual dependence on wife Peggy, as Alzheimer's set in. Only the best actors can fine-tune those character arcs over many years and Arnold was the best. He will be greatly missed by the whole Archers team and our thoughts are with the family."

Peters's first Archers role was as farmhand Len Thomas in 1953. After the character's departure he became the Rev David Latimer, vicar of Ambridge, in 1968, continuing in that role for five years, and then returning in 1980 as Jack Woolley.

He also became a familiar face on TV for his appearances in a TV ad campaign for Werther's Originals toffees. Away from his work on the radio soap, Peters was involved in the opening of Wellingborough's Castle Theatre in the mid-1990s, and also played in a folk dance band.

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