A Matter of Loaf and Death

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A Matter of Loaf and Death
A Matter of Loaf and Death.jpg
Title card
Genre Murder mystery, Comedy
Created by Nick Park
Written by Nick Park
Bob Baker
Directed by Nick Park
Starring Peter Sallis
Sally Lindsay
Composer(s) Julian Nott
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Production
Executive producer(s) Peter Lord
David Sproxton
Miles Bullough
Producer(s) Steve Pegram
Cinematography Dave Alex Riddett
Editor(s) David McCormick
Running time 29 minutes
Production company(s) Aardman Animations
Distributor BBC
Budget £100,000
Release
Original network BBC One
ABC1
Original release
  • 3 December 2008 (2008-12-03) (Australia[1])
  • 25 December 2008 (2008-12-25) (United Kingdom[2])
Chronology
Preceded by The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit

A Matter of Loaf and Death is a 2008 British stop-motion animated film created by Nick Park, and the fourth of his shorts to star his characters Wallace and Gromit.[3] It is the first Wallace and Gromit short since A Close Shave in 1995.[4]

A Matter of Loaf and Death is a murder mystery, with Wallace and Gromit starting a new bakery business. With an unknown assailant murdering bakers, Gromit tries to solve the case before Wallace ends up a victim himself.[5] It was the last Wallace and Gromit film before the retirement of Wallace's voice actor Peter Sallis in 2010.

Plot[edit]

A serial killer has murdered twelve bakers. While on a delivery for their bakery business, Wallace and Gromit save PiellaBakewell, a former pin-up girl for the Bake-o-Lite bread company, and her nervous poodle Fluffles when the brakes on her bicycle fail. Gromit finds there is no problem with the brakes, but Wallace is smitten. He and Piella begin a whirlwind romance, and Gromit is angered when she redecorates their house. Fluffles and Gromit share a sensitive moment when she returns Gromit's possessions, discarded by Piella.

Wallace sends Gromit to return Piella's forgotten purse. At Piella's mansion, Gromit discovers numbered mannequins representing each of the murdered bakers, and a book of photos; Wallace is her planned thirteenth victim, completing a baker's dozen. When he shows Wallace the evidence, Wallace is too distracted with his engagement to Piella to listen.

Gromit installs security measures in their home, including a metal-detecting security screener. After Piella tricks Wallace into thinking that Gromit bit her, Wallace muzzles Gromit and chains him up. Gromit watches helplessly as Piella prepares to push Wallace into the grinder; Wallace is saved when Piella is struck by a bag of flour. After an angry outburst about bakers, she leaves, but drops by the next day to apologise with a cake. Gromit, suspicious, follows her home, where Piella throws him into a storeroom with Fluffles.

Escaping in Piella's old Bake-O-Lite hot air balloon, Gromit and Fluffles arrive at Wallace's house as he lights the candle. After a struggle, the cake falls, revealing the bomb. Wallace and Gromit are attacked by Piella, who reveals she detests bakers after her weight gain ended her career as the Bake-O-Lite girl. She is about to kill Wallace, but is attacked by Fluffles in a forklift. In the chaos, the bomb ends up in Wallace's trousers; Gromit and Fluffles neutralize the explosion with dough while Piella leaps onto her balloon and escape. However, her weight drags the balloon into the alligator enclosure in the zoo.

Dejected, Wallace and Gromit decide to take their mind off things with a delivery. Outside, they find Fluffles and she joins them on a delivery.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In October 2007, it was announced that Wallace and Gromit were to return to television after an absence of ten years.[6] Filming began in January 2008; creator Nick Park commented that the production period for the short was significantly quicker than that of the feature length films Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which each took five years to complete.[4][7] A Matter of Loaf and Death was the first Aardman film to be made using the software Stop Motion Pro. Five models were created for Gromit alone, with scenes being shot simultaneously on thirteen sets.[8]

Commenting on the fact that the short would be made directly for a British audience, Nick Park said: "I don't feel like I'm making a film for a kid in some suburb of America — and being told they're not going to understand a joke, or a northern saying."[4] Regardless, Park changed the title from Trouble at Mill as he thought it was too obscure a Northern England colloquialism. As well as a final title that references A Matter of Life and Death, the film also references Batman, Aliens and Ghost.[9]

Park said in an interview with the Radio Times, "The BBC hardly gave a single note or instruction on the whole thing", and Park goes on to remark how it was better than his previous work with DreamWorks, Curse of the Were-Rabbit, where they kept on receiving calls to change critical things.[8]

Park cast Sally Lindsay after hearing her on the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 2 whilst driving from Preston.[10] Although unfamiliar with her role as Shelly Unwin in Coronation Street, Park said "Sally has a lot of fun in her voice, flamboyant almost, and I was also looking for someone who could be quite charming too, but with a slightly posh northern accent. Piella needed to at times sound well to do, and then at others sound quite gritty".[10]

Release[edit]

Promotional artwork.

The short had its world premiere in Australia, on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's ABC1 on 3 December 2008, and was repeated again the following day on ABC2.[1]

In the United Kingdom, it aired on Christmas Day at 20:30 on BBC One, although it had been readily available on The Pirate Bay since 3 December 2008.[9][11] On 19 December 2008, Aardman Animations revealed they had "no idea" of how clips were leaked onto YouTube, ahead of its screening in the United Kingdom.[12]

In France, A Matter of Loaf and Death (Sacré pétrin in French) was shown – dubbed into French – on Christmas Eve 2008, on M6. In Germany, one version, entitled Auf Leben und Brot was broadcast on the Super RTL network, the title is a play on Auf Leben und Tod meaning a matter of life and death.

In a similar style to A Close Shave, Wallace and Gromit became the theme for BBC One's Christmas presentation for 2008, to promote the showing of A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Reception[edit]

The programme was watched by the most viewers of any programme on Christmas Day, 2008 in the United Kingdom, and secured the largest Christmas Day audience in five years. It was also the most watched programme in the United Kingdom in 2008,[13] with a peak average audience of 14.4 million.[14] The programme had a share of 53.3%, peaking with 58.1% and 15.88 million at the end of the programme.[15]

The repeat showing on New Year's Day even managed 7.2 million, beating ITV's Emmerdale in the ratings. The short was shown on British Television for the third time on Good Friday pulling in 3.4 million viewers. In BARB's official ratings published on 8 January 2009, it showed that A Matter of Loaf and Death had 16.15 million, making it the highest rated programme of 2008, and the highest rated non sporting event in the United Kingdom since 2004, when an episode of Coronation Street garnered 16.3 million.

A positive review came from USA Today, which gave the film four stars.[16]

Awards[edit]

Won
Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.abc.net.au/tv/guide/netw/200812/programs/ZY9756A001D3122008T203000.htm
  2. ^ "Wallace and Gromit in TV comeback". BBC News. 3 November 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Wallace & Gromit Say Cheese!". E! Online. 2008-08-25. 
  4. ^ a b c "Wallace and Gromit return to TV". BBC News. 2 October 2007. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007. 
  5. ^ "Aardman Rights Takes Wallace & Gromit, Timmy On International Adventure". Animation World Network. 2008-10-15. Archived from the original on 19 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  6. ^ "Wallace And Gromit Return". empireonline.com. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 13 September 2016. 
  7. ^ "The latest Wallace And Gromit outing comes to BBC One this Christmas" (Press release). 
  8. ^ a b Nigel Farndale (18 December 2008). "Wallace and Gromit: one man and his dog". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "Latest Gromit misses out on Oscar". BBC News. 2008-11-17. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  10. ^ a b This is South Wales (24 December 2008). "Nick Park says no to Skywalker". This is South Wales. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  11. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/proginfo/tv/wk52/bbc_one.shtml#bbcone_wallace
  12. ^ "Wallace & Gromit pirated on YouTube". International Business Times. 19 December 2008. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2008. 
  13. ^ Robinson, James (26 December 2008). "Wallace and Gromit lead BBC to Christmas ratings victory". London: Guardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 26 December 2008. 
  14. ^ "Wallace and Gromit top TV ratings". BBC News. 26 December 2008. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2008. 
  15. ^ Wilkes, Neil (2008-12-26). "'Wallace & Gromit' leads Xmas Day ratings". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  16. ^ a b "Film Winners in 2009". BAFTA. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  17. ^ "36th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". The Annie Awards. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "The 82nd Academy Awards (2009) Nominees and Winners". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 7 March 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 

External links[edit]