Brian Wilde, 1953 – 2008
Brian Wilde will perhaps be best remembered for his roles in hit sitcoms Porridge and Last Of The Summer Wine.
Very little in the way of biography exists within the public domain. Born Brian George Wilde on the 13th June 1927, in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. Brought up in Devon and Hertfordshire he attended Hertford Grammar School. He trained at RADA to become an actor.
He was married (wife – Eva) and had two children, a son and a daughter. His son Andrew had worked as film editor on Last of the Summer Wine from the mid-1990s, working initially on many of the episodes that had starred his Father and later on the Frank Thornton editions.
After a long and varied career a bout of pneumonia forced him to pull out of the first five episodes of the 1998 series of Last Of The Summer Wine, in case his illness worsened. A scheduling problem made it impossible for Wilde, who was by then fully fit, to return in that series.
In January 2008 Brian Wilde suffered a fall, from which he never recovered. He died in his sleep on the morning of 20th March 2008 at his home in Ware, Hertfordshire and was survived by Eva, his wife, their son and daughter.
Wilde had a varied career on both the big and small screens. His earliest film appearance appears to be in a film entitled Simon and Laura in 1955. Early television roles included appearances in Tony Hancock’s ATV series in 1963, an episode of cult TV series The Avengers in 1967. It would be 1970 and a sitcom entitled The Dustbinmen, where he would have his first major success playing the part of refuse depot manager “Bloody Delilah”.
In 1973 Wilde played a timid, eager to please Prison Officer, Mr Barraclough in ‘Prisoner and Escort’ an episode in the Ronnie Barker series Seven Of One. The episode was commissioned for a full series entitled Porridge. Wilde would reprise his role here in both the series which ran until 1977 and the feature film that was released in 1979.
In 1976, a certain popular sitcom offered him the chance of making up the trio of old men, after Michael Bates decided to move on. The line up would become Last Of The Summer Wine’s most popular and ran through to 1985, when Wilde left to persue other projects.
In 1990 Michael Aldridge decided to step down from his role as Seymour Utterthwaite, who had been Foggy’s replacement. Brian Wilde returned to the hit show reuniting the show’s most popular line up. Unfortunately he contracted pneumonia in 1997 and felt it was better not to participate in the first five episodes of the 1998 series. He suggested Frank Thornton as a temporary replacement. However filming a Christmas Special to introduce Thornton’s character caused a scheduling problem making it impossible for Brian Wilde to return for that series, even though by now he was fully fit.
Despite being asked many times Wilde never did return and the series itself ended in 2010 two years after his death.