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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment