Wallace (right) and Gromit pose with 'Wrong Trousers' supporting characters.


Original medium: Television animation
Produced by: Aardman Animations, Ltd.
First Appeared: 1989
Creator: Nick Park
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Wallace is an inventor, in the tradition of O.G. Wotasnozzle and Gyro Gearloose. Gromit is his canine companion — not exactly a pet dog, because he's every bit as human-like as Brian in Family Guy, except for his lack of speech and opposable thumbs, but he lives in …

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… Wallace's house just like a pet. Together, they're the stars of a film series that's been a prominent part of the British animation scene since 1989.

Wallace & Gromit go back to creator Nick Park's days at Britain's National Film & Television School, where, in 1982, at age 23, he began working on their first film, A Grand Day Out, as a student project. In 1985, he joined the animation staff of Aardman Animations (Chicken Run), where he mostly worked on TV commercials and music videos. But he continued to work on the Wallace & Gromit project, and the finished product was shown at the 1989 British Short Film Festival. By December 20, 1990, it was on British television.

This first Wallace & Gromit outing was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to another Nick Park film, Creature Comforts. The next two Wallace & Gromit 30-minute shorts, Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995) did win Oscars. Wallace's voice is done by Peter Sallis (Grandpa Franklin in Rapunzel). Gromit doesn't speak.

In their first outing, the plot was driven by Wallace's love of cheese, a trait that later became well-established. The household was out, just as they were trying to decide how to spend a holiday, so they decided to go to the Moon, which "everyone knows" is made of cheese. Since Wallace happens to be a genius (and if you don't know, he'll gladly tell you), he found no difficulty in building a vehicle to take them there — and the Moon cheese, he found, was delicious, tho quite unlike any he'd had before.

There's been some interest in a weekly Wallace & Gromit TV show. Tho Aardman has made series of a spin-off, Shaun the Sheep, and even a spin-off of that, Timmy Time (no relation), There's reluctance on the company's part, as well as that of Park, to putting the main series on such a schedule. Wallace & Gromit is filmed "on ones", which takes twice as many poses of the bendable plasticine models as is often the case. Often, filming the stop-motion figures advances at little more than one second per day. Such production values would be grueling, to say the least, on a weekly schedule.

Wallace & Gromit starred in Aardman's second feature, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, released November 7, 2005. Their stories have also appeared in The BeanoMAX, a monthly spin-off of Britain's long-running comic book, The Beano (Dennis the Menace). In addition, they've had their own comic book title from Titan Magazines (Modesty Blaise).

After a couple of decades' popularity, Wallace & Gromit seem assured of a bright future.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Aardman Animation.