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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK
Aardman's model bosses made CBEs
Peter Lord (l) and David Sproxton
The pair began making films on the kitchen table with a 16mm camera
The men who moulded Aardman Animations into one of the world's top animation studios have been made CBEs in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

In 1976 Peter Lord and David Sproxton set up the firm that would go on to make plasticine superstars of cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his loyal dog Gromit.

Sproxton said it was a "a huge honour and a rather humbling experience to be given this award".

Lord added: "2006 marks thirty years since we made the decision to go professional and turn our schoolboy hobby into a career."

Groundbreaking

The pair began making short animations together in the early 70s, selling a 20-second 'claymation' - starring a nerdish superhero named Aardman - to the BBC in 1972.

After a break to attend university, they set up their firm and within a year were contributing the plasticine character Morph to a new BBC children's art programme, Take Hart.

In the early years, our ambition was simply to earn a living
Peter Lord
The cheeky but unintelligible Morph proved so popular that he was given his own series, The Amazing Adventures of Morph, in 1981.

Conversation Pieces, a series of short films shown on Channel 4 in the early 1980s proved groundbreaking, animating characters to real people's recorded conversations.

It was a technique Aardman would repeatedly return to, including in 1989's Oscar-winning short film Creature Comforts, directed by Nick Park.

Star recruit

Park had joined the studio in 1985, where he finished his National Film and Television School graduation film, A Grand Day Out, which introduced Wallace and Gromit to the world.

Animators Steve Box (left) and Nick Park holding their Oscars
The Wallace and Gromit films have earned three Oscars
Two subsequent Wallace and Gromit adventures, The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995), won further Oscars for Park, who was awarded a CBE in 1997.

Lord's own short films, Wat's Pig and Adam, were also nominated for Academy Awards.

And in Peter Gabriel's song Sledgehammer, Aardman created one of the most acclaimed pop videos of all time.

Feature films

The studio scored an international hit in 2000 with its first feature film, Chicken Run, made in collaboration with Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks SKG company as part of a 150m five-film deal.

The avian update of The Great Escape, featuring the voices of Mel Gibson and Julia Sawalha, earned Lord, Sproxton and Park a Bafta nomination for best British film.

Wallace and Gromit
Wallace is distinctively voiced by British actor Peter Sallis
Aardman topped that with the Bafta and a best animated feature Oscar for its 2005 follow-up, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

But the studio suffered a blow late last year when models and props from the movie, and other Aardman films, were destroyed in a warehouse fire.

Responding to the news of his honour, Lord said: "In the early years, our ambition was simply to earn a living - and the prospects weren't particularly bright.

"But since then we've been helped by hundreds of people - the majority of them here in Bristol where Aardman has made its home - without whose creativity, energy and support we could never have achieved the success that we have."

Sproxton added: "It is to them that I turn, touch my hat and say thank you."


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