Wallace and Gromit
|Wallace and Gromit|
Wallace and Gromit
|Theme music composer||Julian Nott|
|Opening theme||"Wallace and Gromit"|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||
|Original run||24 December 1989 – present|
Wallace and Gromit is a British stop-motion comedy animation. Created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations, the series consists of four short films and a feature-length film. The series centres on Wallace, an absent-minded inventor and cheese enthusiast, along with his companion Gromit, a silent yet intelligent anthropomorphic dog. Wallace was first voiced by veteran actor Peter Sallis, but this role has been handed down to Ben Whitehead as of 2011. Gromit remains quiet, communicating only through means of facial expressions and body language.
Because of their widespread popularity, the characters have been described as positive international icons of both modern British culture in particular and British people in general. BBC News has called them "some of the best-known and best-loved stars to come out of the UK". Icons has said they have done "more to improve the image of the English world-wide than any officially appointed ambassadors". Wallace and Gromit has been translated into over 20 languages and has a particularly big following in Japan, as well as in its native Britain and across Europe and the United States.
- 1 History
- 2 Overview
- 3 Production
- 4 Filmography
- 5 Other media
- 6 Promotional appearances
- 7 Charity
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The first short film, A Grand Day Out first released in 1989, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, but lost to Creature Comforts, another animated creation of Nick Park. The short films The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave followed. The full length feature The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was released in 2005. The latter three films each earned Academy Awards. A five-film deal with DreamWorks and Aardman fell through in 2007 after only three films, due to creative differences. Park said later that DreamWorks executives wanted to Americanise the very British Wallace and Gromit after test screenings, that would have tarnished some of the duo's nostalgic charm.
A Matter of Loaf and Death was Nick Park's first production since the end of the Dreamworks deal. Matter of Loaf and Death was likewise nominated in 2010, but lost to Logorama. The films have received critical acclaim, with three of the short films having 100% positive ratings on aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and the feature film having a 95% rating, placing it in the top 20 animated feature films on the site.
In 2013, Peter Lord tweeted that there were no plans at the moment for a new short film. On May 16, 2014, Nick Park announced that there may, possibly, never be another Wallace and Gromit film, due to the declining health of Wallace's voice actor, Peter Sallis.
Voiced by Peter Sallis (until 2010), and Ben Whitehead (in 2009 and since 2011) in Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures and Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels, commercials and apps. Wallace can usually be found wearing a white shirt, brown wool trousers, a green knitted pullover, and a red tie. He is best known for his love of cheese, especially Wensleydale, and crackers. His birthday is 7 August. The thought of Lancashire hotpot keeps him going in a crisis. He enjoys tea, and on special occasions a little Bordeaux red. He reads the Morning, Afternoon and Evening Post. He lives at 62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan, along with his dog Gromit.
Wallace is an inveterate inventor, creating elaborate contraptions that often do not work as intended. He is a self-proclaimed genius, evident from his exclamation when he discovers Hutch's borrowed skill, a talent for all things mechanical. Most of Wallace's inventions look not unlike the designs of W. Heath Robinson and Rube Goldberg, and Nick Park has said of Wallace that all his inventions are designed around the principle of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Wallace's official job varies; in A Close Shave he is a window washer. In The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Wallace runs a humane pest control service, keeping the captured creatures (nearly all of which are rabbits) in the basement of his house. In the most recent short, A Matter of Loaf and Death, he is a baker.
Some of Wallace's contraptions are based on real-life inventions. For example, his method of waking up in the morning utilizes a bed that tips over to wake up its owner, an invention that was exhibited at The Great Exhibition of 1851 by Theophilus Carter, and is similar to a device sold in Japan that is used to ensure the sleeper awakens on time by inflating a pillow under their normal pillow and rolling the person, thus waking them up.
He has a kindly nature, and is perhaps a little over-optimistic. At times he can be inadvertently selfish and inconsiderate, but he has a good heart and always means well. Nick Park, his creator, says: "He's a very self-contained figure. A very homely sort who doesn't mind the odd adventure." He is loosely based on Nick Park's father, whom Park described in a radio interview as "an incurable tinkerer". He described one of his father's constructions, a combination beach hut and trailer, as having curtains in the windows, bookshelves on the walls, and full-sized furniture bolted to the floor. The way he dresses and his passion for cheese is based on an eccentric school teacher.
In the first photo shown on The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, it was revealed that once, when Gromit was little, Wallace had much more hair and a beard. On the photo that shows Gromit's graduation at Dogwarts, he had lost his beard, but still had a little hair, in the form of side burns just above his ears. As shown in The Wrong Trousers, he still uses a hair-dryer. In A Matter of Loaf and Death, when Wallace is talking to Gromit, a picture is seen behind Gromit of Wallace with a brown beard and brown hair.
Wallace has had three love interests. The first was Wendolene Ramsbottom, which ended quickly when Wendolene told Wallace that she was allergic to cheese. The second was Lady Tottington in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, whom Wallace fondly calls "Totty". In A Matter of Loaf and Death, Wallace becomes engaged to Piella Bakewell, but this ended when she turned out to be a murderess who hated bakers, and she was eaten by crocodiles upon trying to escape justice. He remembers all three though, since in Musical Marvels, after the montage of his three love interests, he refers to them as "the ones that got away".
Gromit is Wallace's pet dog and best friend. Gromit is generally more intelligent than Wallace. His birthday is 12 February. Gromit graduated from "Dogwarts University" ('Dogwarts' being a pun on 'Hogwarts', the wizard school from the Harry Potter books) with a double first in Engineering for Dogs. He likes knitting, playing chess, reading the newspaper and cooking. His prized possessions include his alarm clock, dog bone, brush, and a framed photo of himself with Wallace. He is also very handy with electronic equipment and an excellent aeroplane pilot. Though this is not mentioned a lot, according to Wallace or any other person he is a beagle. More often than not, he is seen as a threat to the plans of the various villains he and Wallace have encountered in their adventures. Like his owner, Gromit has a good nature and a kind heart: he is always looking out for Wallace and others. However, unlike his owner, Gromit is more aware and less eccentric than Wallace, and he thinks carefully before he makes his actions. Gromit has no visible mouth and he does not express himself through spoken words, but his facial expressions and body language speak volumes. Peter Hawkins originally intended to voice Gromit, but Park dropped the idea when he realized how Gromit's expressions could easily be made through small movements.
Many critics believe that Gromit's silence makes him the perfect straight man, with a pantomime expressiveness that drew favourable comparisons to Buster Keaton. He does at times make dog-like noises, such as yelps and growling. Nick Park says: "We are a nation of dog-lovers and so many people have said: 'My dog looks at me just like Gromit does!'"
Generally speaking Gromit's tastes are more in vogue than those of Wallace; this being one of the many ways they contrast against each other as characters. Gromit seems to have a significant interest in encyclopaedic, classical and philosophical literature and well as popular culture, including film and music. Electronics for Dogs has been a firm favourite since A Grand Day Out, and in The Wrong Trousers Gromit's bookshelves feature titles such as Kites, Sticks, Sheep, Penguins, Rockets, Bones, and Stars, while he is also seen reading The Republic, by Pluto (a nod to the Disney character of the same name and a pun on Plato) and Crime and Punishment, by Fido Dogstoyevsky (a pun on Fyodor Dostoyevsky). In general Wallace and Gromit is full of wordplay, but Gromit's various possessions and their recurrent use of pun have become a particular source of understated witticism. A Matter of Loaf and Death is the best example of this, featuring: "Pup Fiction" (Pulp Fiction), "The Dogfather" (The Godfather), "Where Beagles Dare" (Where Eagles Dare), "Bite Club" (Fight Club) and "The Bone Identity" (The Bourne Identity) all as book titles, and "Citizen Canine" (Citizen Kane) as a film poster. His taste in music has been shown to cover Bach (which comes presumably as a result of being pronounced 'bark'), "Poochini" (a play on Puccini) and "McFlea" (McFly). Gromit also knits, and solves puzzles with ease.
Sometimes, Gromit refuses to take (or simply ignores) Wallace's orders, such as in A Close Shave and Shopper 13, wherein Wallace orders him to get rid of Shaun, but Gromit does not.
Gromit has had one love interest: Fluffles, a poodle and pet to Piella. Fluffles does not share her mistress's hatred of bakers and joined Wallace and Gromit delivering bread at the end of A Matter of Loaf and Death, where she is seen with Gromit making a delivery, while listening to "Puppy Love" (performed, according to the record cover by "Doggy Osmond").
In 2010, Empire magazine placed Gromit first in their list of "The 50 best animated movie characters". Empire wrote that: "Gromit doesn't ever say a word, but there has never been a more expressive character (animated or otherwise) to grace our screens."
While not overtly setting the series in any particular town, Nick Park had previously hinted that its milieu was inspired by thoughts of 1950s Wigan, reinforced by an A–Z Wigan being displayed on Wallace's Anti-Pesto van in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. In The Wrong Trousers, Gromit picks up a letter at the Wallace and Gromit residence addressed to "62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan". The address includes a postcode of WG7 7FU, though this does not match any street in Wigan, whose postcodes begin with the letters WN. This address can also be seen in the Cracking Contraptions episode "Shopper 13".
Wallace's accent (voiced by Peter Sallis) comes from the Holme Valley of West Yorkshire. Near the beginning of A Matter of Loaf and Death, Wigan is referenced on the newspaper Wallace is reading, and near the end, while looking for somewhere appropriate to dispose of a bomb, Gromit sees the Yorkshire border from their home (a joke referencing the rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire).
In the Cracking Contraptions episode "The Soccamatic", Wallace says to Gromit, "How do you like my Preston North End soccamatic, Gromit?". Whether this is the team they support, or rather where they live, is unknown.
At the end of A Grand Day Out, Wallace tells Gromit to set coordinates for "62 West Wallaby Street" as they are returning to Earth.
Stop motion technique
The Wallace and Gromit movies are shot using the stop motion animation technique. After detailed storyboarding, set and plasticine model construction, the movies are shot one frame at a time, moving the models of the characters slightly to give the impression of movement in the final film. In common with other animation techniques, the stop motion animation in Wallace and Gromit may duplicate frames if there is little motion, and in action scenes sometimes multiple exposures per frame are used to produce a faux motion blur. Because a second of film constitutes 24 separate frames, even a short half-hour film like A Close Shave takes a great deal of time to animate well. General quotes on the speed of animation of a Wallace and Gromit film put the filming rate at typically around 30 frames per day — i.e. just over one second of film is photographed for each day of production. Resultingly, the full films take a great deal of time to produce. The feature-length The Curse of the Were-Rabbit took 15 months to make.
As with Park's previous movies, the special effects achieved within the limitations of the stop motion technique were quite pioneering and ambitious. In A Close Shave, for example, consider the soap suds in the window cleaning scene, and the projectile globs of porridge in Wallace's house. There was even an explosion in "The Auto Chef", part of the Cracking Contraptions shorts. Some effects (particularly fire, smoke, and floating bunnies) in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit proved impossible to do in stop motion and so were rendered on computer.
Park has consistently turned down requests for an ongoing television series because of the time and effort that would be required for even a single episode.
The music featured in all the films was written by Julian Nott, a British film composer.
The theme song was used to wake up astronauts aboard space shuttle mission STS-132 in May 2010. It has been suggested on BBC Radio 4's PM that the theme should become the England football supporters' song, instead of The Great Escape main title theme.
|A Grand Day Out||24 December 1989||23 minutes|
|The Wrong Trousers||26 December 1993||29 minutes|
|A Close Shave||24 December 1995||30 minutes|
|A Matter of Loaf and Death||3 December 2008 (Australia)
25 December 2008 (UK)
|The Curse of the Were-Rabbit||7 October 2005 (US)
14 October 2005 (UK)
Box office performance
|UK Opening Weekend||UK Total||Overseas Total||Total Overall|
|Wallace and Gromit: The Best of Aardman Animation†||$2 million||N/A||N/A||$1 million||$1 million|
|The Curse of the Were-Rabbit||$30 million||£9.4 million||£35 million||$135.8 million||$192.6 million|
† U.S.-only, limited release
|Wallace and Gromit's Cracking Contraptions||15 October 2002||Series of short films||1 season 10 episiodes 1 to 3 minutes each|
|Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention||3 November 2010||TV series||1 season 6 episodes 30 minutes each|
|Jubilee Bunt-a-thon||2 June 2012||Short film||1 minute|
|Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels||29 July 2012 (Radio)
27 August 2012 (TV)
9 February 2013 (tour)
clips and a short
|Shaun the Sheep||5 March 2007||TV series||4 seasons, 130 episodes, 7 minutes each|
|Timmy Time||6 April 2009||TV series||3 seasons, 80 episodes, 10 minutes each|
|Shaun the Sheep 3D||7 March 2012||Special series||1 season 15 episodes, 1 minute each|
|Shaun The Sheep Championsheeps||2 July 2012||Special series||1 season 21 episodes 1 minute each|
|Timmy time - Timmy's Seaside Rescue||13 July 2012||Television special||22 minutes|
|Shaun the Sheep Movie||6 February 2015||Feature film||TBA|
|Shaun the Sheep – The Farmer’s Llamas||Christmas 2015||Television special||TBA|
A Wallace and Gromit interactive CD-ROM game from circa 1995, named W&G: Cracking Contraptions, was released for the PC, containing mini games based on the three original animated shorts as well as brief video clips, wallpapers, screen savers, and sounds that could be assigned as system sounds.
In September 2003, Wallace & Gromit in Project Zoo was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft Windows. This separate story sees the duo take on Feathers McGraw (of The Wrong Trousers) again. Still obsessed with diamonds, he escapes from the penguin enclosure of West Wallaby Zoo, where he was "imprisoned" at the end of The Wrong Trousers, and takes over the entire zoo, kidnapping young animals and forcing their parents to work for him, helping him turn the zoo into a diamond mine. Wallace and Gromit, meanwhile, have adopted one of the zoo's baby polar bears, named Archie. As they go to visit the zoo to celebrate his birthday, they find the zoo closed. A quick spot of inventing back at the house, and they prepare to embark on their latest adventure. Hiding inside a giant wooden penguin, a parody of the famous Trojan Horse, they infiltrate the zoo, and set about rescuing the animals and undoing Feathers' work.
In 2005, a video game of The Curse of The Were-Rabbit was released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, following the plot of the film as Wallace and Gromit work as vermin-catchers, protecting customers' vegetable gardens from rabbits, using a "BunGun".
Gameplay for the Project Zoo involve players exclusively controlling Gromit, as Wallace functions as a helper non-player character, but in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, gameplay shifts between the two, and even includes two-player cooperative play.
Both games were developed by Frontier Developments with the assistance of Aardman, with Peter Sallis reprising his role as Wallace. Project Zoo was published by BAM! Entertainment, while The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was published by Konami.
In July 2008, developer Telltale Games announced a new series of episodic video games based on the characters, called Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures. The first episode in Grand Adventures, "Fright of the Bumblebees", was released on 23 March 2009. The second episode, "The Last Resort", was released on 5 May 2009. Two more episodes, "Muzzled!" and "The Bogey Man" were released in later 2009. The four episodes have separately been released on Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360.
British publisher Titan Magazines started producing a monthly Wallace and Gromit comic after the debut of Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The characters still run Anti-Pesto, and both Shaun and Feathers McGraw have appeared in the comic.
A comic based on the spin-off series, Shaun the Sheep, is being published, also by Titan Magazines. The first issue was released on 29 March 2007.
The two characters appeared in the monthly BeanoMAX comic until its closure in June 2013, and now appear every four weeks in The Beano. They are also heavily featured in 'Aardmag', the free online magazine that is unofficial but supported by Aardman Animations. Nick Park guest-edited the 70th birthday issue of The Beano weekly, and so this issue contained numerous Wallace & Gromit references.
On 17 May 2010, they began appearing daily in The Sun. It is credited to Titan and Aardman, with scripts written by the likes of Richy Chandler, Robert Etherington, Mike Garley, Ned Hartley, Rik Hoskin, David Leach, Luke Paton, J.P. Rutter, Rona Simpson and Gordon Volke, art by Sylvia Bennion, Jay Clarke, Jimmy Hansen, Viv Heath, Mychailo Kazybrid and Brian Williamson. It replaced George and Lynne. A graphic novel compiling all 311 of these daily strips was released on 8th October 2013, and a second volume is set to follow in October 2014. The newspaper strip ended on 27 October 2013.
Wallace and Gromit appeared in the Christmas television idents for BBC One, having appeared in the BBC Two Christmas idents in 1995.
In 2003, Aardman produced a cinematic commercial for the Renault Kangoo starring Wallace and Gromit. The ad played in front of several summer blockbusters in top British cinemas. The commercial, entitled "The Kangoo-matic", was Wallace and Gromit's first advertisement. Later Wallace and Gromit commercials were made for Jacob's Cream Crackers, energy supplier Npower and beverage PG Tips. The characters also appeared in a commercial for Children In Need in 2009, as well as in the Christmas advert for Marks and Spencer.
The duo were used to promote a Harvey Nichols store that opened in Bristol (where Aardman is based) in 2008. The pictures show them, and Lady Tottington from The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, wearing designer clothes and items. They were also used to prevent a Wensleydale cheese factory from shutting down because of financial difficulties after a member of staff came up with the idea of using Wallace and Gromit as mascots, as Wensleydale is one of Wallace's favourite cheeses.
On 28 March 2009, The Science Museum in London opened an exhibition called "Wallace & Gromit present a World of Cracking Ideas." The family-oriented show, open until 1 November 2009, hoped to inspire children to be inventive. Wallace and Gromit were featured in many exhibition-exclusive videos, as well as one announcing the opening of the exhibition.
In December 2010, while appearing on Desert Island Discs, Nick Park announced that he was working with Pleasure Beach Blackpool to build a theme park ride based on the characters. The Wallace & Gromit: The Thrill-O-Matic dark ride opened at Pleasure Beach Blackpool in 2013.
In 2012, Wallace and Gromit featured on an advert saying 'Inventing For Britain' which was part of a poster campaign to promote British trade and business aboard in the year they hosted the Olympics. In 2013, sculptures of Gromit went on display in Bristol, many decorated by famous artists; they were auctioned off in October 2013 in aid of the Wallace and Gromit Foundation charity and raised over £2 million.
In August 2012, they presented an edition of The BBC Proms, Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels, as Prom 20 of the 2012 season. Because of its popularity, Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels became a full touring show in 2013. It premièred at The Plenary in Melbourne, Australia on 9 February 2013. It was performed at other venues throughout 2013, with A Matter of Loaf and Death screened at each performance.
In 2013 the pair appeared in a nationwide TV, press and cinema campaign promoting the British government's "Holidays at Home are Great" directive, called Wallace & Gromit's Great UK Adventure. The TV ad follows the mischief that ensues when Wallace attempts to fire the pair abroad from one of his inventions, while Gromit tries in vain to show him how much there is to see and do in the UK. Produced in partnership between Aardman Animations and VisitEngland, the campaign also featured a series of animated postcards documenting their trip.
Wallace and Gromit spearhead the fundraising for two children's charities, Wallace & Gromit's Children's Foundation, which supports children's hospices and hospitals in the United Kingdom, and Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity. In July 2013, 80 giant fibreglass decorated sculptures of Gromit were distributed around Bristol as part of a Nick Park-inspired project to raise funds for the charity. The project is named Gromit Unleashed and sculptures were decorated by a range of artists and celebrities, including Joanna Lumley, Sir Peter Blake, Trevor Bayliss and Jools Holland.
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- Official website
- The Wallace & Gromit Children's Foundation
- BBC One - Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention