In a radical departure from their usual animated adventures, Bristol, England-based Aardman Animation’s beloved stop-motion characters Wallace & Gromit are set to host a new documentary-style
series that will bow on BBC 1 in November.
Wallace & Gromit’s World of Inventions is a six x half-hour documentary-style series focused on revealing some of the world’s most unusual inventions. And it promises to take the pair into a new realm of consumer products and promotional tie-ins in the property’s 21st year.
The series also marks Aardman’s first foray into live action. ‘It’s a new direction, but it’s also kind of familiar,’ says Miles Bullough, head of broadcast. He explains that Wallace is the world’s foremost absent-minded inventor, so the extension seemed like a natural. ‘Hopefully, we will be able to attract a new audience that is interested in the quirkier aspects of science,’ Bullough says.
Each ep is built around a theme – ‘Home, Sweet, Home’ focuses on the inventors of domestic gadgetry, for example – and they will air during primetime for six successive weeks starting on November 3. Also taking the pair in a new direction is a robust companion website that will allow users to upload video demonstrations of their own inventions, create virtual contraptions and obtain instructions on how to build inventions featured in the series.
‘The website will be a virtual lab,’ says Bullough. ‘We haven’t done anything like it before.’
Promotion-wise, the novelty continues with the BBC hitting the road to tour UK shopping malls in support of the series. ‘We’ll be going to six different malls for six weekends,’ Bullough says. ‘The show will feature us making a motorized chair right in front of the live audience.’
Aardman has already inked a publishing deal for the series in the UK with HarperCollins, as well as licensing the publishing of a 52-page companion book to Titan Magazines. 2Entertain, meanwhile, is on tap to release a DVD set in Q4.
‘The consumer products keep moving over,’ says Bullough. ‘We are going to be looking at developing more science-based and contraption-like toys.’
The series also has international carriage on a number of prominent broadcasters, including Super RTL (Germany), France 3 (France), ABC Australia, DR Denmark (Denmark) and YLE (Finland), so Bullough expects similar marketing and consumer products to follow suit in those countries. He adds that the universal appeal of the characters is what has kept them strong for more than two decades after creator Nick Park first introduced them to the world.
‘The work is really extraordinary,’ he says. ‘It never ceases to delight. Wallace is a universally recognizable everyman character. Gromit doesn’t speak, but he gets all the best lines. The pair together is magic.’