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Hometown honors for Wallace and Gromit

Creators of the the animated duo are granted free run of Bristol.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Crackin’ good job, Gromit!

The creators of Oscar-winning animated duo Wallace and Gromit are to be awarded the freedom of their home city, officials said Wednesday.

Nick Park, Peter Lord and Dave Sproxton, from Bristol-based Aardman Animations, will receive the honor at a ceremony in the southern English city Monday — and one of the prominent items on the menu will be Wallace’s favorite Wensleydale cheese.

The local government in Bristol awards what it calls the “finest accolade” of the city to community members for their achievements.

Across Britain, being given the freedom of a city historically gave recipients a variety of curious special rights.

Freemen in many towns held the right to drive sheep and cattle through main streets. In London, they could request that police help them to get home if intoxicated — rather than toss them in a jail cell.

Now, the award is more of a symbolic gesture for a job well done.

“Aardman Animations, and Wallace and Gromit in particular, are amongst Bristol’s greatest success stories of recent times,” said Bristol’s mayor, Peter Abraham, who proposed the award.

“The dynamic duo are a fabulous example of the kind of innovative work coming out of the city’s internationally recognized creative and digital industries sectors,” the mayor said.

“As Wallace himself might say, we’d be crackers not to celebrate their success.”

Aardman spokesman Arthur Sheriff said the team were delighted by the accolade “and now cannot wait for the actual ceremony” at Bristol City Council offices.

He said Aardman will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a party at Bristol Zoo Gardens on Friday, “so all in all, it’s going to be quite a weekend.”

This year, Aardman won its fourth Academy Award for the latest Wallace and Gromit adventure, “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” featuring the balding cheese-lover Wallace and his canine companion, Gromit.

The company previously won Oscars for the animated films “Creature Comforts,” “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave.”

In October, the company suffered a setback when a fire tore through its Victorian warehouse, destroying hundreds of props, sets and models.