A Grand Day Out

NICK Park has caused Wallace and Gromit some fine how-do-you-do’s at number 62 West Wallaby Street.
That’s how I began a feature in December 1995 after a trip to BBC TV Centre in London to interview Nick and meet his two Plasticine stars.
“First the Lancashire film maker sent them off on A Grand Day Out, a cheesy Bank Holiday trip in a home-made rocket to the moon,” the article continued.
“Then inventor Wallace found himself in The Wrong Trousers facing a penguin, disguised as a chicken, who ended up behind bars in a zoo.
“Now double Oscar-winner Nick is giving them A Close Shave in a truly amazing adventure that seems certain to land him a third gold doorstop.”
Within months he was clutching that third Oscar and went on to win a fourth earlier this year for Wallace and Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit.
At that interview 11 years ago, Nick proudly clutched Wallace and Gromit in their red motorbike and sidecar – exactly as pictured above.

“When I look at Wallace, I can’t help but think of my father,” he told me.
Sitting beside the Lancashire-born animator was veteran actor Peter Sallis – the voice of Wallace – who described Nick as “bloody brilliant”.

He’s still of the same opinion when talking to this week’s edition of The South Bank Show (ITV1, Sunday, 10.45pm).
There’s a feature in tomorrow’s MEN about this TV profile of Nick, introduced by Melvyn Bragg in Plasticine form (right and below).
Peter credits the Preston-born animator and director as being “probably the biggest single factor in animated films since Disney”.
Nick also reflects on his upbringing and work at Aardman Animations in Bristol, whose past successes include an award-winning TV commercial for the MEN. I’ve still got a copy somewhere up in my loft.
“I’ve always been someone who prefers to retreat by myself after a busy day or a busy period of time,” he tells Lord Bragg.
“I find birdwatching and just walking in the country, watching wildlife…I find it very relaxing and it helps to level me out again after a stressful week in the studio.
“I love watching birds out in the wild and admiring the beauty of them. It’s the mystery of what they’re thinking, that they’re so unlike us.

“It’s a whole mysterious world which we can only understand a little of.”
As for his next project, Nick seems to be leaning away from a feature film in favour of something shorter – with lots of ideas for both Wallace and Gromit and other characters.
Whatever he does, I’m sure it’ll be – in the words of Mr Sallis – “bloody brilliant”.
Aardman Animations
Nick Park
The South Bank Show