Born in 1931 in Leipzig, German, Peter Gilmore came to Britain at the age of six. He was raised by relatives in Nunthorpe, North Yorkshire, before leaving school at age 14, wherupon he moved to London to work in a factory.
Gilmore had always been keen on acting as a career, and spent a short time at RADA, before being expelled. He then went on to join the army as part of his National Service, where he discovered a talent for singing. After leaving the army, Gilmore joined the George Mitchell Singers, before becoming a comedy stooge alongside the likes of Frank Sinatra and Danny Kaye.
Throughout his early showbusiness career, Gilmore made a number of stage appearances in plays such as Follow that Girl and Lock up your Daughters. All in all, he appeared in a dozen West End shows, but sadly all of them were flops.
Intent on a career as an actor, Gilmore gave up singing and began to make a living appearing in television adverts in Europe and America. A succession of minor film roles were to follow (including appearances in several Carry On films), but it wasn't until the early 1970s that he found true fame, in the long-running BBC serial, The Onedin Line.