The actor has died at 81 and the Times’ Benedict Nightingale has a nice obit, including this (perhaps self-mythologizing) explanation of how the young Irish boy turned to acting:
Peter was an altar boy at the local Roman Catholic church and displayed a gift for creative writing, but he left school at 13 and became a warehouseman, a messenger, a copy boy, a photographer’s assistant and, eventually, a reporter for The Yorkshire Evening News. A poor journalist by his own admission, he was fired by the editor with the words, “Try something else, be an actor, do anything.”
He also mentions a memorable performance of his as the daffy Lord Emsworth in a film of P.G. Wodehouse’s “Heavy Weather.” Some priceless bits on YouTube.
Quite a distance from his performance of Lawrence of Arabia, something I grew up hearing about but am glad I first encountered as an adult, better able to tune into the ironic contradictions under the epic sweep of the story. And my were his eyes blue.