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."

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
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

Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; Blackfriars; £25k

£25000 per annum + training: Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game