We have a lot to thank Nick Park for. He's the man who brought us Shaun the Sheep, Chicken Run and – of course – his most famous creation Wallace and Gromit.
The inventor and his pet dog are known the world over, as is the distinctive style of Park's iconic characters created by Aardman Animations. The studio's latest offering is Early Man – a delightful animated tale that follows caveman Dug who finds himself playing a game of football against Bronze Age warriors to secure the survival of his tribe.
The film boasts an A-list cast of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston and Maisie Williams – but how did Park conceive of his unusual plot? "At Aardman we’re always looking for that idea that’s a bit offbeat and a bit quirky," he tells RadioTimes.com. "I’ve long wanted to make a caveman movie but if it was just a caveman adventure it would perhaps feel a bit too obvious."
"I think it’s more of a caveman adventure movie about the clash of two civilisations but football’s a kind of metaphor about how this tribe galvanise themselves together."
The finished product – "at the top of Aardman's evolutionary tree", according to Radio Times' Andrew Collins – has been years in the making. But now it's about to hit cinemas, is there ever going to be more Wallace and Gromit? "I would like to think there is," says Park.
The animated pair were last seen on television screens in Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention, a miniseries that aired on the BBC back in 2010. It marked the last time Wallace was voiced by actor Peter Sallis, who had played him since his inception in 1989 and passed away last year.
"Obviously it's very sad with the passing of Peter Sallis last year," Park adds. "He was such a special one-off person with such unique qualities, it would be hard to fill his shoes but I think he'd want us to carry on and I've got more Wallace and Gromit ideas."
Is there the seed of a plot developing? "Yes, there always is. It's in such an early stage – there are a couple of ideas. They may not end up working together, I'm not sure."
But whatever Park ends up doing, it sounds like a shorter format – rather than a feature film – is rather appealing. "After making [Early Man] with a cast of thousands – with a football crowd... the thought of doing a short film with two or three characters is very attractive right now."
Early Man is in UK cinemas now. You can watch the trailer below: