Wallace and Gromit rise again as their history is remodelled

When a fire incinerated the entire archive of Aardman Animations 12 days ago, it seemed that three decades of modelling-clay history - from Morph to the terror-inducing Pie Machine in Chicken Run - had gone for ever in the 1,000C blaze.

But just as Wallace and Gromit, the cheese-loving inventor and his loyal hound who have won Aardman two Oscars, always turn adversity into a Plasticine-based triumph, so plans are afoot to restore many of the lost "claymation" legends.

The Independent has learnt that Aardman, which started life 29 years ago in a back room in Bristol and now employs 300 people in a full-scale studio, intends to recreate a "significant number" of the models .

Fire investigators will enter the collapsing ruins of the Victorian warehouse in central Bristol this weekend to establish if the cause of the blaze was arson.

At the same time animators are drawing up a list of lost items, some of which took up to six months of painstaking work to create.

Kieran Argo, Aardman's head of exhibitions and its chief archivist, said: "Everything that was in the warehouse was completely destroyed. We estimate that up to 6,000 items, from early character models to awards, went up in smoke.

"But we didn't quite lose our entire history - we have the moulds for the models from Chicken Run for example. Our hope is to recreate and rebuild a significant number of the models and sets that were lost.

"The fire and the publicity it generated made us realise the affection with which many people regard the characters."

The company was supposed to be celebrating the US box-office triumph of its latest Wallace and Gromit film, Curse of the Were-Rabbit, on the day the fire broke out. The film made £9.4m on its opening weekend in Britain last week - 13 times that of its nearest rival.

All sets and characters from Were-Rabbit, including 30-odd Wallace figures and around 40 Gromits, had not yet been stored in the warehouse but Aardman's senior executives described the loss of the other materials as "a bit of a tragedy".

The studio had been running exhibitions of its best-known characters and sets around the world since the early 1990s. To continue the exhibitions, there are plans to rebuild sets from Chicken Run, the studio's first feature-length film based on a spoof prisoner-of-war drama, and previous Wallace and Gromit films - A Grand Day Out, A Close Shave, and The Wrong Trousers. Each set is likely to cost £6,000.

Among the models to be resurrected will be the Pie Machine, the infernal contraption designed to transform Chicken Run's latex stars into pastry-based snacks. Moulds that survived the fire will be used to recast characters from Chicken Run, which cost £50,000 each to develop. The stars of Creature Comforts, the tale of talking polar bears, terrapins and a jaguar that won Aardman's animation genius, Nick Park, the first of his three Oscars, will also be recreated.

But Aardman said a number of items were irreplaceable. Spokesman Arthur Sheriff said: "About a tenth of what went up was genuinely historic. If Nick does go on to be what many people think he will be - one of the world's greatest animators - then we have lost things like the original script for A Grand Day Out or original sketches. They are part of film history."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links