Nick Park – “Wallace needed an assistant so I drew a cat called Gromit”

Ahead of their appearance at the BBC Proms, the claymation duo's creator reveals how a feline Gromit turned into a dog

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It was back in his college days at the National Film and TV School that the man behind Wallace & Gromit, animator Nick Park, first came up with his most famous creations.

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“I had this idea about this guy who builds a rocket in the basement of his house, and would blast off through a sequence of trap doors, for a joke.”

“Then I thought he had to have an assistant. So I drew a cat, called Gromit.”

A cat? Surely not!

“But when I came to model the cat out of clay, I just found a dog easier to make. With longer legs and a proper snout. Plus, I had a packet of dog’s noses from a craft shop on me… so Gromit became a dog.”

So one half of what is arguably Britain’s most widely-recognised animated double act swapped species thanks to a pack of noses. And that wasn’t the only change Park decided to make… 

“He was going to be a bouncy extrovert character but on the first day of shooting, he was too hard to move. I found it much easier just moving his brow.”

“It gave him a personality, an inner, discerning mind. Suddenly he became a contrast; a child more intelligent than his father.”

So who does Park prefer – the absent-minded inventor with a penchant for Wensleydale or his faithful dog with the expressive ears?

“Oh don’t ask me! I can’t decide between my children – it’s an impossible question. I probably do relate to Gromit. He is more the hero, and Wallace more the catalyst. But they’re inseparable.”

Park’s much-loved clay creations are set to headline this year’s BBC Proms with a piece of specially-commissioned music, as well as some classical favourites, but what do they like to relax to?

“Wallace would be into classical music. He and Gromit are traditionalists. And Gromit likes certain composers.”

Really, who? “Poochini and Bark.”

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To find out how Wallace and Gromit will appear in person at the Albert Hall, and to get the lowdown on Nick Park’s latest projects, read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times, on sale now, priced £1.40.