We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of former Home and Away actor Peter Collingwood, who died peacefully last month aged 96.
Long-term fans of the series will remember Peter in his recurring guest role as Bert King, father to Pippa Ross, from 1995-1997.
On hearing the news, Debra Lawrance who played Pippa told BTTB:
Peter was such a dear, and I’m not in the least surprised that he nearly made it to the letter from the Queen. He was always sprightly and engaged and full of lovely showbiz stories. We had a very warm time together on H&A, and it was easy to play his daughter because he felt like a Dad to me. He was such a fine actor.
Peter Trevor Collingwood was born on 6th May 1920 in Kent, England. After his studies at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth were cut short due to eyesight problems, Peter enrolled at the Embassy Theatre’s School of Acting in Swiss Cottage, North London in 1937. His first professional acting role came the following year in the Chinese play The Western Chamber.
During the Second World War Peter served in the British Royal Navy, and was later seconded to the Greek Royal Hellenic Navy to serve as a liaison officer on the submarine RHS Matrozos.
After the war, he joined the Amersham Repertory Theatre in Buckinghamshire, followed by the Young Vic in London and a number of other companies around the country. In 1950 he married Margery Shaw, and they moved to Perth, Scotland where Peter worked for the Perth Repertory Company, appearing mostly in comedy roles. During this time he wrote the farce Gathering Nuts which was performed by the company in April 1952 as well as by a number of other repertory companies.
He returned with his family (daughter Julia, and step-sons Christopher and Michael) to London in 1953 where he worked regularly on stage and in film and television. In 1961, with Margery and step-son Michael, he travelled overland in a Kombi van to Sri Lanka then by ship to Perth, Australia. There he worked with the Perth Playhouse until 1963, with the family then returning to England for two years. During this time, Peter appeared in a number of successful West End shows including Inadmissible Evidence, Meals on Wheels and I Love you Mrs Patterson.
The family then emigrated to Australia, first living in Perth before settling in Balmain, Sydney in 1967. He worked for many Sydney theatre companies, including the Old Tote, Nimrod Theatre, Belvoir Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company and the Independent. Between 1970-1972 Peter acted as director of the Community Theatre, later known as Marian Street Theatre.
As well as Home and Away, his roles on Australian TV have included that of Mr Dunkley in Are You Being Served?, Governor Phillip in The Timeless Land, and numerous appearances in series such as Phoenix Five, Coral Island, A Country Practice, All Saints and Always Greener. Film appearances during that time include Picnic at Hanging Rock, Mad Dog Morgan, Minnamura, and Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film Moulin Rouge!
Peter retired in 2003 and passed away on 23rd September 2016. His family and friends will celebrate his life at a gathering on Sydney Harbour in November.
With thanks to Peter’s daughter, Julia.
The character of Bert was originated by actor Kevin Healy in a single episode in 1988, when he visited the bay with wife Coral (Jessica Noad) after Pippa’s brother Danny attempted suicide.
Whilst Coral subsequently returned for a few weeks in 1989, Bert wasn’t seen again until he came to stay in the Ross house following Coral’s off-screen death in 1995, at which point Peter took over the role. After a 3 week stint, in which it became apparent that Bert was struggling with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Bert reunited with his old pal Harry as he moved into a retirement village. He later returned for two short stays in 1996.
Bert’s most memorable tenure came in 1997, when he returned to help take care of the household after Pippa ended up in a coma following an altercation with Shannon’s boyfriend Kye. During his stay, he had a whirlwind romance with Donald Fisher’s mother Isobel Dupré (played by Lorrae Desmond), which led to a number of comedic and heart-warming moments.
The romance wasn’t to be though, with Isobel suffering from a terminal illness. Soon after Pippa woke, Bert took a couple of weeks leave to be with Isobel in Adelaide during her final days.
Bert’s final appearance aired in September 1997, when both he and Carly Lucini made a surprise return for Steven Matheson’s ill-fated wedding to Selina Roberts.
Peter’s first stint as Bert King will be airing on Home and Away: The Early Years, at 9am on 7TWO, until 8th November 2016.