Arnold Peters (Jack Woolley)

I'm sorry to have to announce that Arnold Peters, who played Jack Woolley, died at the weekend.

Archers editor Vanessa Whitburn 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.'

I worked with Arnold many times in studio. My abiding memories are of his invariable kind enquiries about my family, and the absolute care he took over his performance.

I was chatting to June Spencer (who plays Peggy) about him just last week. Here are some of her recollections of this gentle man:

‘Arnold and I worked together many times, long before The Archers started. I have really happy memories of the Children’s Hour pantomimes we were both in together. They were great fun to do. Arnold was very versatile. I remember in one he played the villain and the hero!

‘He did a lot of work producing shows for local amateur dramatic societies. He was a country dance caller, and a drummer in a band. He was very active, all the time, whether it was for charity or professionally.

‘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.

‘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.'

June also remembered recording Arnold's last appearance in The Archers.

June Spencer and Arnold Peters recording Jack Woolley's final appearance in The Archers

‘We went to see him in his retirement home. He could still turn in a good performance. He read it perfectly. We worked together just as we’d always done, up to the last.’

Arnold Peters' final appearance as Jack Woolley (Jul 2011)

Arnold Peters’ obituaries in the press:

"In a career spanning more than 50 years, Arnold Peters was a regular, if unsung performer, in a host of TV programmes. But the role for which he is best known was probably his most difficult - the portrayal of The Archers' Jack Woolley as his character succumbed to dementia…" BBC News obituary

"Like most Archers actors, Peters pursued a vigorous career alongside his commitment to Ambridge. He wrote and directed pantomimes, produced Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and was both a drummer in a folk dance band and a country dance caller. By the early 1990s he reckoned he had clocked up well over 3,000 radio programmes and 250 television appearances..." The Telegraph obituary

"Peters’ first broadcast was for the BBC’s Children’s Hour and he went on to land a place at the BBC Drama Repertory Company, based in Birmingham. June Spencer, who played his wife, Peggy, in the radio soap said: “Arnold and I worked together many times, long before The Archers started…” The Scotsman obituary

"A quiet, genial man, a professional to the core, Peters did much, even once silent, to enlighten his audience [about dementia] through this particular blurring of life and art." The Guardian obituary

You’ll also find some lovely photos of Arnold on The Mirror and Daily Mail websites.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

Read about Jack Woolley in our Who's Who

Comments

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by JoannaTr

    on 20 May 2013 17:57

    it is so sad:( it really got me down. he looks like such a good person. I hope he had someone who loved him close when he was leaving...:(

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  • Comment number 15. Posted by PaulC

    on 15 May 2013 18:55

    Arnold's portrayal of Jack Woolley over many years was an absolute joy. The comedic value his lines often offered were comparable to Len Fairclough (Coronation Street) at his best. His final contribution, which highlighted a condition that none of us would want, was delivered with warmth and compassion and was acted out in such a professional manner that I'm sure also brought out compassion in many Archers listeners. He and his character will be sorely missed.

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  • Comment number 14. Posted by Kikke

    on 14 May 2013 11:15

    Sad sad, RIP

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by hernebaydave

    on 14 May 2013 09:28

    I will miss the soft, gentle Midlands burr and the sheer sincerity of the man. A treasured moment was the death of Captain and the grief and recriminations that followed !R.I.P. Arnold!!

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by Cynthia

    on 14 May 2013 01:05

    R.I.P Jack. You were excellent to the end. Sleep on. Condolence to your faimily and workmates.

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  • Comment number 11. Posted by David Collins

    on 13 May 2013 20:36

    Sorry to hear about Arnold Peters. One of the old familiar voices on 'The Archers', and also a great person. I met him a few times, most memorably at the Malvern showground at the Ambridge Festival in 1993, and the brilliant weekend at Barton Hall, Torquay, when he was compere and caller for the dancing. He knew the Torbay area from his childhood, as his family used to come to Brixham for holidays. A charming man, and very much a gentleman in the classic sense of the word. I offer his wife, daughter and granddaughters, and those who worked so closely with him, my sincere condolences; he will be sadly missed.

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by The Venerable Mrs A

    on 13 May 2013 18:37

    Sad loss but fantastic storyline throughout Jack's decline which can't have been done by a lesser actor. RIP and condolences to family, friends and all colleagues.

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by Bob Booker

    on 13 May 2013 18:25

    I am so sad that Arnold has passed away. His character in the Archers was an integral part of the drama and I know life goes on even for my favourite "soap" but somehow it will dimmed by his light going out.

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by LilianFred

    on 13 May 2013 18:24

    So sorry to hear this. He was a super actor and as Suzie_G said, brave of him to act out Jack's declining years. R.I.P. Arnold. Best wishes to his family and friends.

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by Camera5hy

    on 13 May 2013 18:21

    My deepest sympathy. He was a great character.
    I remember seeing the Archers Pageant during which he did a pantomime song and had the audience singing and laughing along with him.

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