Wallace & Gromit on the moon

A Grand Day Out

The story of A Grand Day Out began when Nick Park was a student at the National Film and Television School. When deciding what to do for his graduation project, he chose to animate a couple of characters he had been sketching and writing short stories for - a man with a flat cap and his cat. The cat later transformed into a dog and the man lost the moustache that Nick had originally drawn him with, but the idea of the ingenious inventor and his cautious canine was there in Nick Park's student sketchbook. Gromit was always planned and recorded as a speaking part, but whilst shooting Nick discovered the communication options with his brow. The Gromit we know today has no voice, or mouth!

After doing a 3-week attachment at Elstree Film Studios and seeing how all the special effects were being created, Nick began to piece some ideas together about a man who builds a rocket in his basement and flies to the moon to stock up on his supplies of cheese. At the same time that Nick was developing his short film, Peter Lord and David Sproxton (the founders of Aardman Animations) went to give a talk at the National Film School, during which Nick took the opportunity to show them what he was making for his final year project. At the time, Nick had barely shot the construction of the rocket sequence - a paragraph on paper had taken him a year and a half to complete!

Pete and Dave realized Nick's project was overly ambitious for the timescale he had been given and so they offered him an opportunity to work at Aardman animating commercials in exchange for studio time and additional resources to finish his project. A Grand Day Out was finally finished and transmitted on Channel 4 on Christmas Eve, 1990 - 6 years after production began! The iconic voice of Wallace was provided by Peter Sallis, who had helped Nick out as a favor during his time as a student. Peter helped to direct and shape the character, but once he had recorded the voice he heard nothing more. Naturally, he was very surprised to hear from Nick 6 years later with a transmission date!

The show became a major talking point, along with another of Nick's creations, Creature Comforts, and both stunned the public by being nominated for Academy Awards. In the end Creature Comforts won the award in the short animated film category, but Wallace and Gromit had captured the public's heart and it wasn't long before the next short film was in production...

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