With much of the Commonwealth celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next month, many events have been planned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Elizabeth II taking the throne, with one of them set to be a new episode of an always-anticipated animated series.
Wallace and Gromit, a ‘claymation’ duo conceived by Aardman Animations in 1989, generally release new episodes in a half-hour format, but on this occasion are primed only for a minute-long special, premiering at 14 of the National Trust’s 70 planned ‘tea parties’ across ‘Trust sites’ in the UK on 4 June, under the banner of ‘Summer of Celebration’.
Said to have been made by 30 Aardman production staff across 3 months in the pain-staking stop-frame animation format, new segment Wallace and Gromit’s Jubilee Bunt-a-thon will be first aired at ‘green grass carpet’ premieres on the 14 selected sites, featured across Bristol, Cambridge, Grantham, London, Norwich, ‘Quarry Bank Mill’, Reading, Shrewsbury, Wallington, York (all England), Bangor, ‘Powis Castle’ (both Wales), Downpatrick, and Magherafelt (both Northern Ireland).
The short will see the famed slapstick pair attempt to climb ladders to hang bunting around their own home as well as a Trust manor, while a non-exclusive launch of a ‘behind-the-scenes’ special showing the production of the clip (which is already online at the National Trust website), will also be shown on the selected Trust sites during the day-long public celebrations.
It would seem that the choice of characters for the special film would have been a choice that the Royal Family would have made themselves, as the Duchess of Cornwall is said to have recently revealed that Wallace and his pet dog Gromit are her husband Prince Charles’ (the Prince of Wales) ‘favourite people in the world’.
The film will continue the timeless legacy of the popular English franchise (which has a long-running association with the BBC), which in its traditional clay-based format has seen 4 half-hour specials, a feature-length movie (Curse of the Were-rabbit), spin-off series, and numerous clip and advert-based appearances (notably including formats related to gadgets and inventions), the latter of which will be added to with the June Diamond Jubilee special.
Wallace and Gromit show creator Nick Park claimed that the link-up will be special for him personally, as the National Trust gave him a number of childhood memories, that inspired many storylines in the franchise, stating: “I have to pinch myself when I think how far Wallace and Gromit have come; from ideas in my head, to ‘film stars’ working with great organisations such as the National Trust, which the nation holds dear to its heart. At Aardman we are thrilled that Wallace and Gromit have had a chance to explore all the Trust has to offer – from helping to put up bunting to enjoying their Wensleydale cheese platter at a picnic. Wallace and Gromit are in for a cracking summer at the National Trust. The National Trust has a special place in my heart from a childhood memory of completing a paint-by-numbers at Stourhead, to Montacute House, on which we based Tottington Hall in the Curse of the Were-rabbit.”
Tony Berry, visitor experience director at the National Trust, added his verdict on the deal to show the short film: “The National Trust and Wallace and Gromit are two of Britain’s greatest treasures and we felt it fitting that in this summer of celebration we should bring them together. We are holding our very own premiere of Wallace & Gromit’s Jubilee Bunt-a thon at our properties, it was made exclusively for the National Trust and we are really excited that it will encourage the nation to join us for an extra special Diamond Jubilee celebration.”
This latest short installment will have an exclusive start on the designated National Trust sites, but with the development of connected ‘sharing’ through social media at an all-time high for the first time in the history of Wallace and Gromit, could this installment end up being the first to go ‘viral’ online?