A Matter of Loaf and Death

A Matter of Loaf and Death

Title card
Written by Nick Park
Bob Baker
Directed by Nick Park
Starring Peter Sallis
Sally Lindsay
Theme music composer Julian Nott
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Steve Pegram
Peter Lord
David Sproxton
Nick Park
Cinematography Dave Alex Riddett
Editor(s) David McCormick
Running time 29 minutes
Production company(s) Aardman Animations
Distributor BBC
Budget £100,000
Original release
  • 3 December 2008 (2008-12-03) (Australia[1])
  • 25 December 2008 (2008-12-25) (United Kingdom[2])

A Matter of Loaf and Death is a 2008 British clay animated murder mystery comedy film created by Nick Park, and the fourth of his shorts and the last to date to star his characters Wallace and Gromit.[3] Released in 2008, it is the first Wallace and Gromit project since the feature film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2005, and the first short since A Close Shave in 1995.[4]

A Matter of Loaf and Death is a mock murder mystery, with Wallace and Gromit starting a new bakery business. When the duo both learn that bakers have been mysteriously murdered, Gromit tries to solve the case before Wallace ends up a victim himself.[5]


Baker Bob is murdered by an unseen assailant that he recognises; he is the latest of twelve local bakers to be killed. Meanwhile, Wallace and Gromit are running a "Dough to Door" delivery service from their bakery "Top Bun". While out delivering, the duo save Piella Bakewell, a former pin-up girl mascot for the Bake-O-Lite bread company, and her miniature poodle, Fluffles. The brakes on her bicycle appear to have failed as she careers down a hill and into the local zoo. They narrowly save her from crashing into the crocodile enclosure. Gromit becomes suspicious after testing the bicycle brakes and noticing that they work perfectly fine, but Wallace is smitten with Piella.

A whirlwind romance ensues. Gromit quickly comes to resent Piella for her demanding and controlling relationship with Wallace and insistence on decorating the house (including Gromit's room). He does however befriend Fluffles, realising that she has been poorly treated by Piella. When Piella leaves her purse at the house, Wallace asks Gromit to return it. Upon arriving at Piella's affluent mansion, Gromit discovers photographs of Piella with the twelve murdered bakers. To his horror, Gromit deduces that Piella is the "Cereal Killer" as he discovers a picture with Wallace as her apparent intended thirteenth victim, thus completing a "baker's dozen". Gromit escapes the house after narrowly avoiding Piella.

As Wallace remains oblivious to the danger he's in, Gromit attempts to thwart Piella by installing an airport-style metal detector in their home, locking all their knives in the garden shed, and checking the soup she had brought with her for poison. Piella tricks Wallace into thinking that Gromit bit her and persuades him to chain Gromit up. She then almost succeeds at pushing Wallace to his death, but she is thwarted by a swinging bag of flour from Wallace's dough-mixing contraption. After being struck down and covered flour, Piella snaps into an angry outburst against bakers, then leaves. The following day, she returns to apologise with a large cake, and they agree to share it at a four o'clock tea. When Piella is leaving to attend to the absent Fluffles (who is "not well"), she says he will be getting a surprise. A worried Gromit follows her home only to be caught and imprisoned with Fluffles in a storeroom. Escaping in Piella's old Bake-O-Lite hot air balloon, they arrive at Wallace's house as he is lighting the candle.

After a struggle, the cake falls to the floor and a bomb inside is revealed. While attempting to dispose of the bomb (pastiching a well-known scene from the 1966 film Batman), Wallace and Gromit are attacked by Piella, who confirms her murderous identity to the duo and reveals the reason for her hatred of bakers - she blames them for ruining her figure, and resents losing her job as the Bake-O-Lite girl after her obesity made her too heavy to ride the hot air balloon. While attempting to finish off Wallace, a battle ensues between Piella and Fluffles in a yellow forklift truck covered by giant oven mitts (pastiching the climactic power-loader fight in Aliens).

In the chaos, the bomb ends up in the back of Wallace's trousers. Gromit and Fluffles neutralise the explosion using a large amount of dough while Piella uses the distraction to leap onto her balloon and escape. However, owing to her weight, the balloon crashes into the crocodile pit at the zoo where she is eaten alive (off-screen). Distraught by the death of her owner, Fluffles leaves, with both Wallace and Gromit depressed over their losses. Deciding to take their minds off things, they head out to deliver bread and find Fluffles standing in the driveway. She joins them in the van and the three drive off into the sunset.



In October 2007, it was first announced that Wallace and Gromit were to return to television screens after an absence of ten years.[6] Filming began in January 2008, and had the fastest production period for a Wallace and Gromit short.[4][7] A Matter of Loaf and Death was the first Aardman film to be made using the software Stop Motion Pro. Five models were created for Gromit alone, with scenes being shot simultaneously on thirteen sets.[8]

Commenting on the fact that the short will be made directly for a British audience, Nick Park said: "I don't feel like I'm making a film for a kid in some suburb of America — and being told they're not going to understand a joke, or a northern saying."[4] Regardless, Park changed the title from Trouble at Mill as he thought it was too obscure a Northern England colloquialism. As well as a final title that references A Matter of Life and Death, the film also references Aliens and Ghost.[9]

Park said in an interview with the Radio Times, "The BBC hardly gave a single note or instruction on the whole thing", and Park goes on to remark how it was better than his previous work with DreamWorks, Curse of the Were-Rabbit, where they kept on receiving calls to change critical things.[8]

Park cast Sally Lindsay after hearing her on the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 2 whilst driving from Preston.[10] Although unfamiliar with her role as Shelly Unwin in Coronation Street, Park said "Sally has a lot of fun in her voice, flamboyant almost, and I was also looking for someone who could be quite charming too, but with a slightly posh northern accent. Piella needed to at times sound well-to-do, and then at others sound quite gritty".[10]


Promotional artwork.

The short had its world premiere in Australia, on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's ABC1 on 3 December 2008, and was repeated again the following day on ABC2.[1]

In the United Kingdom, it aired on Christmas Day at 20:30 on BBC One, although it had been readily available on The Pirate Bay since 3 December 2008.[9][11] On 19 December 2008, Aardman Animations revealed they had "no idea" of how clips were leaked onto YouTube, ahead of its screening in the United Kingdom.[12]

In France, A Matter of Loaf and Death (Sacré pétrin in French) was shown – dubbed into French – on Christmas Eve 2008, on M6. In Germany, one version, entitled Auf Leben und Brot was broadcast on the Super RTL network, the title is a play on Auf Leben und Tod meaning a matter of life and death.

In an similar style to A Close Shave, Wallace and Gromit became the theme for BBC One's Christmas presentation for 2008, to promote the showing of A Matter of Loaf and Death.




The programme was watched by the most viewers of any programme on Christmas Day, 2008 in the United Kingdom, and secured the largest Christmas Day audience in five years. It was also the most watched programme in the United Kingdom in 2008,[16] with a peak average audience of 14.4 million.[17] The programme had a share of 53.3%, peaking with 58.1% and 15.88 million at the end of the programme.[18]

The repeat showing on New Year's Day even managed 7.2 million, beating ITV's Emmerdale in the ratings. The short was shown on British Television for the third time on Good Friday pulling in 3.4 million viewers. In BARB's official ratings published on 8 January 2009, it showed that A Matter of Loaf and Death had 16.15 million, making it the highest rated programme of 2008, and the highest rated non sporting event in the United Kingdom since 2004, when an episode of Coronation Street garnered 16.3 million.

A positive review came from USA Today, which gave the film four stars.[13]


  1. 1 2 http://www.abc.net.au/tv/guide/netw/200812/programs/ZY9756A001D3122008T203000.htm
  2. "Wallace and Gromit in TV comeback". BBC News. 3 November 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  3. "Wallace & Gromit Say Cheese!". E! Online. 2008-08-25.
  4. 1 2 3 "Wallace and Gromit return to TV". BBC News. 2 October 2007. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  5. "Aardman Rights Takes Wallace & Gromit, Timmy On International Adventure". Animation World Network. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
  6. "Wallace And Gromit Return". empireonline.com. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  7. "The latest Wallace And Gromit outing comes to BBC One this Christmas" (Press release).
  8. 1 2 Nigel Farndale (18 December 2008). "Wallace and Gromit: one man and his dog". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2008.
  9. 1 2 "Latest Gromit misses out on Oscar". BBC News. 2008-11-17. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  10. 1 2 This is South Wales (24 December 2008). "Nick Park says no to Skywalker". This is South Wales. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/proginfo/tv/wk52/bbc_one.shtml#bbcone_wallace
  12. "Wallace & Gromit pirated on YouTube". International Business Times. 19 December 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  13. 1 2 "Film Winners in 2009". BAFTA. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  14. "36th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". The Annie Awards. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  15. "The 82nd Academy Awards (2010) Nominees and Winners". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 7 March 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  16. Robinson, James (26 December 2008). "Wallace and Gromit lead BBC to Christmas ratings victory". London: Guardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
  17. "Wallace and Gromit top TV ratings". BBC News. 26 December 2008. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
  18. Wilkes, Neil (2008-12-26). "'Wallace & Gromit' leads Xmas Day ratings". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-26.

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