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Britain / Films / Wallace And Gromit
The Wallace and Gromit films
  A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008)
  The Curse of the Were-rabbit (2005)
  Aardman Animations
  British inventors
  Further information
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British films: Britain/Films


Wallace and Gromit are characters which appear in a series of British animations, created using plasticine (soft clay) models. They are very popular, both with adults and children. The humour and situations in the films have many typical British characteristics.

Wallace is an inventor who lives at 66 West Wallaby Street in a small town in north England. He is very impulsive - he acts first and thinks later, so he often gets into trouble. His favourite food is cheese.
Gromit is Wallace's dog. He is very intelligent and is a keen reader. He is also quite emotional - although he doesn't talk, these feelings are cleverly expressed through his eyebrows and ears.

Nick Park created these characters while he was a student at the National Film School. The filming technique used is known as "stop-motion clay animation". Each frame is filmed separately, with small adjustments being made by hand. Typically it takes 1 day to create a couple of seconds of animation, so it takes many years to complete each of the films ("The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" took 5 years to make).

The Wallace and Gromit films have been:
A Grand Day Out: a short film issued in 1989
The Wrong Trousers: a short film issued in 1993 (won an Oscar as the best animated short)
A Close Shave: a short film issued in 1995 (won an Oscar as the best animated short)
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: a feature-length film released in October 2005 (won an Oscar as the best animated feature film)
A Matter of Loaf and Death: a short film issued in 2008

Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were Rabbit (DVD)
Studio: Universal Studios
Date: February 2006
Wallace & Gromit, 'A Grand Day Out', The 'Wrong Trousers' & 'A Close Shave' (DVD)
Studio: BBC
Date: October 2005
The Art of Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit
Authors: Andy Lane, Paul Simpson
Publisher: Titan Books
Date: September 2005
Wallace & Gromit Essential Guide (book)
Authors: Glenn Dakin
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
Date: August 2005

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Wallace And Gromit - A Matter Of Loaf And Death (DVD)
Studio: 2 Entertain Video
Date: 23 March 2009


The short film "A Matter of Loaf and Death" is directed by Nick Park and co-written by Nick Park and Bob Baker.

The main characters are:
Wallace - voiced by Peter Sallis:
(he is most famous for his role as Norman Clegg (a retired Yorkshireman) in the UK television comedy series "The Last of the Summer Wine")
Piella Bakewell, the Bake-O-Lite Girl, voiced by Sally Lindsay:
(best known for her role as Shelley Unwin in the UK soap "Coronation Street" between 2001 and 2006)
Gromit (Wallace's dog)
Fluffles (Piella's poodle)

Story outline

Wallace and Gromit have opened a bakery - business is good, because 12 bakers have recently been killed in the area. When Wallace falls in love, it is up to Gromit to solve the murder mystery and to stop Wallace from becoming the 13th victim ...

Jokes and references

There is a lot of wordplay used in the film (usually connected with bread, cakes, cheese or dogs) and references to films or TV. Below is an explanation of some of the jokes or references:

- A Matter of Loaf and Death is a play on the phrase A Matter of Life and Death, which is a phrase use to refer to something very important, and is the name of a famous film released in 1947 (it was known as Stairway to Heaven in the USA).

- Baker Bob sings to himself the song If I knew you were coming I'd've baked a cake.
This was originally a hit song for the American singer Eileen Barton in 1950:
A British version was recorded in the same year by Gracie Fields

- The screenplay for A Matter of Loaf and Death was co-written by Bob Baker, so the name of the murder victim Baker Bob is a play on his name.

- The newspaper is called The Daily Grind. This is a phrase which means "difficult, routine, or monotonous tasks of daily work". Grinding is also the process of making grain into flour in a mill.

- One of the headlines in the newspaper is Cereal Killer Strikes Again. A serial killer is someone who kills lots of different people over a period of time. A cereal is a plant which produces grain.

- Gromit uses Furry Liquid for cleaning, which is a play on the name of a popular brand of washing-up liquid called Fairy Liquid (because a dog has a furry coat).

- Wallace and Gromit's bakery business is called Top Bun. This is a play on the name of a 1986 film called Top Gun:

- The back of their van says Dough to Door Delivery, a play on the phrase "door-to-door delivery" (meaning a service which takes products directly to the customer's house). Dough is used to make bread. There is also a sign saying Flour to the people (a variation of the political slogan "power to the people").

- Like in the film "The Curse of the Were-rabbit", the buttons on the radio in the van spell out the word mutt (American slang for a mongrel dog)

- Gromit says, "We're on a roll". "To be on a roll" is a phrase meaning to be doing well (going from one success to another). Roll can also refer to a bread roll.

- The runaway bicycle scene is based on a scene with a runaway minecart in the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom:

- The lady's name is Piella Bakewell. The name Piella sounds like the Spanish dish paella, but the start is spelled like the word "pie" instead.
Bakewell is a small town in Derbyshire which is famous for its Bakewell puddings. It also sounds like the words "bake well".

- Piella used to be the Bake-O-Lite Girl, who was "as light as a feather" but has since "ballooned" (she has put on a bit of weight since then).
This idea is based on a 1970's television advert for a low-calorie bread called Nimble, featuring a thin girl flying in a balloon and eating a slice of the bread. You can see one of the original adverts here:

- When Wallace and Piella are feeding the birds in the park and both put their hands into the bag at the same time Wallace says "Oh, crumbs!" Crumbs is an old-fashioned expression of surprise, but is also a word for small pieces of bread.

- The canal scene is set in Lancashire, not Venice (they are on "Larry's Love Barge", not on a gondola). The advertising board says "Fly to Venice with Cheesy Jet" - this is a play on the name of the airline company EasyJet. There are factories beside the canal - Lancashire used to have a lot of textile mills. One of the factories is called Hot Pot, which is named after Lancashire Hotpot (a popular meal that comes from this part of England).

- The potter's wheel scene (using dough instead of clay) is based on a famous scene in the 1990 film Ghost:
The music which is used is the same as was used in the film (Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers:

- Gromit's room has a poster for the film Citizen Canine. This is a play on the name of a 1941 film called Citizen Kane:

- Gromit sees that many of his possessions have been thrown in the bin, including the book Pup Fiction (based on the book Pulp Fiction), a comic called The Beagle (based on the comic called The Eagle - a beagle is a type of dog). There is also a cat made of cloth, which is a reference to the children's television programme Bagpuss (an animation series created by Oliver Postgate, who died in 2008). When his things are returned we can see his record collection includes Puppy Love by Doggy Osmond (the 1972 song Puppy Love was actually sung by Donny Osmond: and a record by McFlea (a variation on the name of the British boy band McFly)

- The brand shown inside Piella's shoes is Poochi (a play on the famous Italian brand Gucci). A pooch is a humorous word for a dog, especially one which is looked after very comfortably

- Piella lives at 12a Pastry Rise.

- Fluffles sleeps in a box labelled Meatabix Dog Food. This is a play on the name of a breakfast cereal called Weetabix, presumably this food is made from meat instead of wheat. A Meatabix box was also featured in The Wrong Trousers (Gromit hid in this box while spying on Penguin).

- Gromit studies the book "Electronic Surveillance for Dogs". The author's name is B.A.Lert, which is pronounced like "be alert"

- Cock-a-leeky soup is a Scottish soup which is often eaten as a starter during Scottish winter festivals such as Burns Night, Hogmanay and St Andrew's Day. Chicken (or other fowl) is boiled together with vegetables (such as leeks).

- WMD is an abbreviation for "weapons of mass destruction"

- My flower is a term of affection which also sounds like "my flour". Wallace also calls Piella my petal (petal is used in this way in parts of Northern England). Throughout the film Wallace and Piella also use lots of different terms of affection for each other based on the names of types of sweet food (hodge podge cake, cheesecake, vanilla slice, sponge cake, shortcrust, apple strudel, sugar dumpling, cupcake, angel cake). In the second half many of the food expressions are insults: my mince pie (because Wallace will be minced by the mill machinery), fruitcake (a UK slang expression for a crazy person) and gooseberry fool (a fool is another word for a person who behaves in a silly way).

- A baker's dozen is a way of saying the number 13, which is one more than a normal dozen (12). There are several different theories about the origin of this expression.

- On the matchbox used by Wallace is the name Duck matches. This is a reference to the well-known Swan Vesta matches (made by the company Bryant & May).

- Gromit runs to various windows trying to find a safe place to dispose of a bomb, but outside the first window is a pond of ducklings and outside the second one there are some nuns walking down the street holding kittens. This is a spoof on a scene in the 1966 film Batman: Gromit isn't so worried about throwing the bomb through the third window, towards the Yorkshire border. This is a joke about the traditional rivalry between the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire in Northern England.

- Use your loaf is an expression meaning to think carefully (use your brain)

- Fluffles (driving the forklift) and Piella fight like Ripley and the alien in the 1986 film Aliens:

- The word buns can be a slang expression for a person's buttocks (bottom)

- The crocodile pool at the zoo has a sign "sponsored by Superb Snaps". A snap is a word for a photograph, but also refers to an attempt made by an animal to bite someone. Super Snaps is the name of a photo processing company.

- If somebody has been put through the mill it means that the person has had a difficult and unpleasant experience.

- The LPs (long player records) in the van include Poochini (Pucini), the Beagles (the Beatles) and the Hound of Music (the Sound of Music), but Fluffles chooses the previously seen Puppy Love by Doggy Osmond (Donny Osmond)

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The film "The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" is written and directed by Nick Park and Steve Box.

The voices of the main characters are:
Peter Sallis - Wallace:
(he is most famous for his role as Norman Clegg (a retired Yorkshireman) in the UK television comedy series "The Last of the Summer Wine")
Helena Bonham Carter - Lady Tottington:
(she played Mrs. Bucket in the 2005 film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", and was the voice of the main character in "Corpse Bride")
Ralph Fiennes - Lord Victor Quartermaine:
(another of his roles is as Lord Voldemort in the 2005 film "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire")

Story outline

In a small town in north England, the local people are busy preparing for the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, organised by Lady Tottington. Business is good for Wallace and Gromit, who run a business protecting the townspeople's vegetables from rabbits and other pests. But Wallace's latest inventions are about to upset the balance of nature ...

Jokes and references

There is a lot of wordplay used in the film, including puns connected with themes of the story (such as vegetables, rabbits, dogs, hair and cheese). There are also many references to other films (especially horror films). Below is an explanation of some of these jokes or references:

* Cheese

Wallace says that he is "crackers about cheese". Crackers is a slang word meaning crazy, but is also the name of a thin biscuit on which cheese is eaten.

The titles on Wallace's bookshelf are based on famous films/books, but their names have been changed to reflect his love of cheese. For example:
- East of Edam is based on the book "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck (Edam is a type of Dutch cheese)
- Brie Encounter is based on the name of the film "Brief Encounter" (Brie is a type of French cheese)
- Grated Expectations is based on "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens (cheese can be grated into small pieces)
- Fromage to Eternity is based on "From Here to Eternity" by James Jones (fromage is the French word for cheese)

Wallace's favourite cheese is Wensleydale. Wensleydale is an area in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, in north England. Sales at Wensleydale Creamery greatly increased because of the Wallace and Gromit films! Stinking Bishop is a specialist cheese made at a small farm in Dymock (near Gloucester).

A spread is something that is put on top of bread (for example, a cheese spread). Next to the toast on the kitchen table is a jar of middle-aged spread: this is a phrase which describes someone getting fatter as he/she gets older.

* Brands

Smeg is an American brand of fridge, but the label on Wallace's fridge is Smug. If someone is smug that person is too self-satisfied.

We see Gromit using a drill marked Botch. The real name of the company which makes this kind of machine is Bosch. To botch something means to do a job badly.

* Styles of English

Wallace reads a magazine called Ay-Up! This is a reference to Hello! magazine: "Ay-Up!" is a slang Northern English greeting.

Wallace says "Thanks, chuck" to Gromit. Chuck is an informal way of addressing a friend in Northern English.

Wallace says "Give it some more welly, lad". Give it some welly is an informal expression in Northern English, encouraging (or ordering) someone to work harder. Welly is an abbreviation of wellington boots, often worn when gardening or working outside.

Lord Quartermaine and Lady Tottington use many expressions that are considered "posh" or old-fashioned; for example: blighter (annoying person), awfully (very), referring to a young woman as a filly (a young female horse), what what, spiffing (excellent), jolly good, or what the Dickens.

* Dogs

A photo is shown on the wall showing Gromit getting his degree from Dogwarts. This is a reference to the Harry Potter stories - Harry studies at a school called Hogwarts.

Gromit and Quartermaine's dog take off in First World War fighter planes. Gromit's plane is a Royal Flying Corps machine, while his enemy flies a German plane. A close fight between two aircraft is known as a dogfight, but in this case it is really a fight between two dogs ...

The radio channels are labelled M U T T. Mutt is an American expression for a mongrel dog.

* Pests

Wallace and Gromit run a business called Anti-Pesto, which gets rid of insects or animals which threaten plants and vegetables in a humane (kind) way. This name is based on the words anti (against) and pest (an insect or animal which causes trouble for farmers). It is also a play on the word antipasto - something eaten at the start of an Italian meal.

S.W.A.T. Team has been painted on Wallace's car door, together with a logo showing an instrument for squashing flies. SWAT is an abbreviation for "Special Weapons and Tactics": it is the name of a special armed group in a US city's police department which deals with very dangerous situations. However, swat also means "to hit a fly or other insect with a flat object", which is the reason for the logo (a fly swatter).

* Rabbits

In Wallace's kitchen is a container labelled Buns. As well as its ordinary meaning (a small round cake), it is used in the film as an abbreviation of bunny (a baby rabbit).

One of Wallace's inventions is called the Bun-Vac because it is like a vacuum cleaner for bunnies. The Bun-Vac's speed is 125 rpm - this stands for rabbits per minute instead of the usual meaning of revolutions per minute.

One of the main rabbit characters is called Hutch. A hutch is a wooden box with a wire front where pet rabbits are kept.

Wallace's car numberplate is HOP 2 IT which can be read as "hop to it". This is a phrase meaning "hurry" which is appropriate because a rabbit hops (jumps).

There's a sign saying: "The buck stops here". Buck can either mean responsibility (the usual meaning in this phrase) or a male rabbit.

There is a reference to the song Run, rabbit, run by Flanagan and Allen (a popular British singing and comedy double-act during the Second World War).

* Hair

Victor Quartermaine is the lord who wants to marry Lady Tottington. A mane is the long hair on a horse's head: it is sometimes also used to refer to a person's hair. Victor's name - which sounds like "quarter mane" - suggests that he is going bald because only a quarter of his hair remains.

There are other jokes in the film about Victor's hair, including confusion between toupee (a wig) and to pay, and also between hair and hare (a large rabbit with long ears).

* Vegetables

The villagers all have garden-related names: for example the vicar Reverend Hedges or Mrs Mulch (mulch is decaying dead leaves, used by gardeners to help their plants grow).

The slogan of Wallace's favourite daily newspaper is "the paper with its finger on the pulses". Pulses are the seeds of plants with pods such as peas and beans. If your finger is on the pulse, you are up-to-date.

As Gromit works in his greenhouse he listens to a classical CD called The Plant Suite. The actual title is The Planet Suite, by Gustav Holst.

The carrot-shaped trophy is made of pure gold - 24 carrot gold (it should be 24 carat gold).

* Sex

As is common in many British comedy films, there are some mild sexual references (innuendo). Examples are Lady Tottington's doorbells and prize melons, "my wife's brassicas" (brassicas are plants belonging to the mustard family, including cabbage, broccoli, and turnip), the box labelled "warning - may contain nuts", and the vicar's "Pro Nun Wrestling" magazine.

Lady Tottington tells Wallace to "call me Totty". Totty is British slang for a sexually attractive woman.

When Wallace asks Gromit to make the model of a lady rabbit move in "a bit more alluring" a way, the music that is played is The Stripper, played by Joe Loss and his Orchestra.

* TV/film references

There are many TV and film references in the story, including:

- The eyes of paintings on the wall flash when they need help. A similar idea is used in Thunderbirds.
- The car chase scenes are inspired by the TV series Starsky and Hutch.
- The camerawork when the bullet is fired is copied from The Matrix.
- Some of the monster scenes at the end of the film are based on King Kong.
- A local barber's shop is called A Close Shave (a previous Wallace and Gromit film).
- The scene in which the monster approaches from below the ground is based on the horror film Tremors (about giant worm-like creatures).
- The werewolf idea is based on films such as The Wolf Man, The Curse of the Werewolf and An American Werewolf in London (a werewolf is someone who, in stories, changes into a wolf at the time of the full moon).
- On the car radio you can hear "Bright Eyes" by Art Garfunkel. This was the theme song from the film version of Richard Adams' book Watership Down (about a warren of rabbits).
- There are other references to The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frankenstein, The Fly and Dracula.

The Wolf Man/Werewolf Of London [1935] (2 DVDs)
Studio: Universal Pictures
Date: October 2004
King Kong [1933] (DVD)
Studio: Universal Pictures
Date: December 2005

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The characters and stories were created by Nick Park, working at a company based in Bristol called Aardman Animations. This company created the music video for Peter Gabriel's song "Sledgehammer" and for Nina Simone's song "My baby just cares for me". In 2000 it also made the film "Chicken Run" (a spoof on prisoner-of-war films such as "The Great Escape", set in a chicken farm).

Creature Comforts - Vols. 1 And 2 [1989] (2 DVDs)
Studio: Momentum Pictures Home Ent
Date: November 21 2005
Creature Comforts - Series 2.1 (DVD)
Studio: Momentum Pictures Home Ent
Date: November 21 2005
Chicken Run [2000] (DVD)
Studio: Pathe Distribution Ltd
Date: December 2000

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Wallace is an eccentric British inventor, creating strange machines such as the Techno-trousers in "The Wrong Trousers" and the Mind-Manipulation-o-Matic and Bun-Vac 6000 machines in "The Curse of the Were-rabbit".

The artist William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) was famous for his cartoons of strange machines. Rowland Emett (1906-1990) was another famous cartoonist who created unusual inventions. He went on to make many of these: the most famous examples are the machines shown in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, in which the main character is an eccentric inventor called Commander Caractacus Potts (played by Dick van Dyke).

The Art of William Heath Robinson
Authors: Geoffrey Beare
Publisher: Dulwich Picture Gallery
Date: June 2004
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Special Edition [1968] (2 DVDs)
Studio: Mgm Home Ent. (Europe) Ltd
Date: November 2003
Eccentric Contraptions and Amazing Gadgets, Gizmos and Thingamabobs
Author: Maurice Collins
Publisher: David & Charles
Date: September 2004
Patently Absurd: The Most Ridiculous Devices Ever Invented
Authors: Christopher Cooper
Publisher: Robson Books Ltd
Date: October 2004

Of course, British inventors have created many more useful products too, especially during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. For example, these things were all developed by British people:

Sandwich (John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, 1762)
Electric light (Humphry Davy, 1800)
Pneumatic tyres (John Dunlop 1808)
Steam locomotive (George Stephenson, 1814)
Lawn mower (Edwin Beard Budding, 1830)
Toilet paper (Joseph Gayetty, 1857)
Crossword puzzle (Arthur Wynne, 1913)
Television (John Logie Baird 1926)
Penicillin (Alexander Fleming, 1928)
Jet engine (Frank Whittle, 1932)
Cat's eyes (Percy Shaw, 1933)
Radar (Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, 1935)
Pocket calculator (Clive Sinclair, 1971)
Bagless vacuum cleaner (James Dyson, 1983)
The World Wide Web (Tim Berners-Lee, 1989)

For more British inventors and inventions, see:
The British Invention Show ( is an annual event in October each year.

"Local Heroes" Book of British Ingenuity
Authors: Adam Hart-Davis, Paul Bader
Publisher: Sutton Publishing
Date: September 1997
James Dyson's History of Great Inventions
Authors: James Dyson
Publisher: Constable and Robinson
Date: September 2002

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Aardman Animations:
Wallace & Gromit official site:
For further information about the film "The Curse of the Were-rabbit", see:

Video clips on YouTube:
A Grand Day Out:
The Wrong Trousers:
A Close Shave:

Special versions of the Wallace and Gromit shorts (with simplified dialogue) have been made for use by English as a Foreign Language teachers and students. For details, see or the following links:
A Grand Day Out:
The Wrong Trousers:
A Close Shave:

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British films: Britain/Films
British food: Britain/Food
British comedy: Life/Entertainment/Comedy
October Plenty (British autumn traditions): Ideas/Album/OctoberPlenty
Chelsea Flower Show: Ideas/Album/ChelseaFlowerShow

Home page: Home

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