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Wallace and Gromit are the main characters in a series consisting of four Britishmarker animated short film and a feature-length film by Nick Park of Aardman Animations. All the characters are made from moulded plasticine modelling clay on metal armature, and filmed with stop motion clay animation.

Wallace, an absent-minded inventor from Wiganmarker, Lancashiremarker, is a cheese enthusiast (especially for Wensleydale cheese). His companion, Gromit, is an anthropomorphic intelligent dog. Wallace is voiced by veteran actor Peter Sallis; Gromit remains silent, communicating only through facial expressions and body language.

Due to their popularity, the characters have been called positive international icons of modern British culture and of the British people. BBC News has called them "some of the best-known and best-loved stars to come out of the UK." Icons has stated that they have done "more to improve the image of the English world-wide than any officially appointed ambassadors". The short films The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave and their full length feature The Curse of the Were Rabbit received Academy Awards. The first short film A Grand Day Out, was nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film, but lost to Creature Comforts, another animated creation of Nick Park.

The two characters appear in the monthly BeanoMAX Comic. This eventually replaced their original comic published by Titan Magazines. They are also heavily featured in the unofficial (though supported by Aardman Animations) free, Monthly, online magazine 'Aardmag'.

Wallace

Voiced by Peter Sallis, and by Ben Whitehead in Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, Wallace can usually be found wearing a white shirt, brown wool trousers, green knitted pullover, and a red tie. He is best known for his love of cheese, especially Wensleydale, and crackers. The thought of Lancashire hotpot keeps him going in a crisis. He enjoys tea or a drop of Bordeaux red for those special occasions. He reads the Morning, Afternoon and Evening Post and occasionally Ay-Up!, which is a parody on Hello! magazine.

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.

Some of Wallace's contraptions are based on true inventions. For example, Wallace's method of getting up in the morning incorporates 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 Japanmarker 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 a little 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 Nick 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 often holds his hands, palms forward, fingers curled, is said to be 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 little patches just above his ears. The reason behind Wallace's loss of hair is unknown. However, as shown in The Wrong Trousers, he still feels the need to use a hair-dryer.

Wallace has had three love interests. The first was Wendolene Ramsbottom which ended quickly when Wallace realized the sad fact that she was allergic to cheese. The second was Lady Tottington, whom Wallace fondly refers to as "Tottie". In A Matter of Loaf and Death, Wallace becomes engaged to Piella Bakewell, but this ended when she turned out to be a murderer who hated bakers, and was killed by crocodiles upon trying to escape justice.

Gromit

Gromit lives with 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, reading the newspaper, and cooking. His prized possessions include his alarm clock, bone, brush, and a framed photo of himself with Wallace. He is also very handy with electronic equipment. Gromit even reads Electronics for Dogs.

Gromit does not express himself with spoken words. However, his facial expressions and body language speak volumes. 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!'" Gromit enjoys eating "KornFlakes" and reading many books, including The Republic, by Pluto (a nod to the Disney character of the same name and a pun on Plato); Crime and Punishment, by Fido Dogstoyevsky (a pun on Fyodor Dostoyevsky); and a "how-to" guide entitled, Electronics for Dogs. He also listens to Bach, 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.

On 1 April 2007, HMV announced that Gromit would stand in for Nipper for a three month period, promoting children's DVDs in its UK stores.

NASAmarker has named one of its new prototype Mars explorer robots after Gromit.

Unlike his master Gromit has only had one love interest: Fluffles, a poodle and pet to Piella. However 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

Adventures

30-minute Films



Feature-length films



Other Appearances



In 1995 and again in 2008, Wallace and Gromit were called upon by the BBC to be the face of the network's idents for BBC2 and BBC1 respectively. The BBC2 idents featured the Number 2 ident as the more mischievous star of the show, e.g. going ice skating with them and being the entrée for their Christmas dinner, whereas the BBC1 idents had Wallace and Gromit as the stars of the show, making snow angels in the ground, carol-singing and having a nasty experience with a toboggan.

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 ever advertisement. Later Wallace and Gromit commercials were made for Jacob's Cream Crackers, energy supplier Npower and beverage PG Tips as well as advertising for a Wensleydale cheese factory. The characters also appeared in a commercial for Children In Need in 2009, as well as in the Christmas advert for Marks and Spencer.

On March 28, 2009, The Science Museummarker, in London, opened an exhibition titled "Wallace & Gromit present a World of Cracking Ideas." The family-oriented show hopes to inspire children to be inventive. Official Page, Science Museum Page, The exhibit was open until November 1, 2009. Wallace and Gromit were featured in many exhibition-exclusive videos, as well as one announcing the opening of the exhibition.( viewable on the Aardman YouTube channel)

Spin-offs



Location



While not overtly setting the series in any particular town, Nick Park had previously hinted that its milieu was inspired by thoughts of 1950s Wiganmarker, 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 WNmarker. Wallace's accent, however, voiced by Peter Sallis, comes from the Holme Valleymarker of West Yorkshire. Near the end of A Matter of Loaf and Death, 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). However, Wigan is over 30 km away from the Yorkshire border.

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.

Both Ramsbottommarker and Tottingtonmarker are small towns near Burymarker, and both are love interests of Wallace.

Stop-motion technique

The Wallace and Gromit films are shot using the stop motion animation technique. After detailed storyboarding, and set and plasticine model construction, the film is shot one frame at a time, moving the models of the characters slightly between 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 photographed for each day of production. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a perfect example for how long this technique takes to make quality animation; it took five years to make.

As with Park's previous films, 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. However, in A Grand Day Out, when Wallace struck a match the fire was made of red and yellow tissue paper, and if one looks closely at the fuse, in some frames there was actual fire.

It is due to the time and effort required for even a single episode that Park has consistently turned down requests for an ongoing television series.

Video games

A Wallace and Gromit interactive CD-ROM game from circa 1995, named W&G: Cracking Contraptions, has been 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, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows, 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 both games 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 March 23, 2009. The second episode, "The Last Resort", was released on May 5, 2009 According to a review on the IT Reviews website, there will be four games in total in the series.

Comic

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 the 29th March 2007.

The Wallace and Gromit comic strip also appears in BeanoMAX. Nick Park guest-edited the 70th birthday issue of The Beano weekly, and so this issue contained numerous Wallace & Gromit references.

Popular culture

Wallace and Gromit 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. The duo have been used in numerous advertising campaigns down the years, and currently appear in adverts for energy supplier Npower.Wallace and Gromit have also been used as the TV Station Ident for various Christmas periods for BBC1, including 2008. They also were used to prevent a Wensleydale cheese factory from shutting down due to financial difficulties - a member of staff came up with the ingenious idea to use Wallace and Gromit as mascots, as Wensleydale is one of Wallace's favourite cheeses, and sure enough, sales of Wensleydale shot back up.

See also



References

External links




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