The creators of Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep will receive the 40th Anniversary Award at the UK film critics’ awards ceremony on 30th January.

The UK’s leading film critics today announced that Aardman will receive a special honour at their 40th anniversary awards ceremony on 30th January. The London Critics’ Circle Film Awards presented by Pearl Pictures Productions will be held at the May Fair Hotel.

“The London critics are huge fans of Aardman’s work,” says Rich Cline, chair of the Critics’ Circle Film Awards. “We have been speaking for years about giving them some sort of special recognition, and this year is perfect, with our 40th anniversary coinciding with Wallace and Gromit’s 30th. Plus of course the huge success of this year’s Shaun the Sheep adventure Farmageddon, which we loved beyond reason.”

In response, Aardman cofounder David Sproxton said: “It’s wonderful to receive recognition from people who watch literally hundreds of films a year and earn their living writing about them. When a film is released, you are never sure what the reaction of the critics will be, so it’s lovely to be acknowledged positively by them with this award.”

Based in Bristol, Aardman is famous for creating much-loved and often riotously entertaining characters including Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph. Their films have won four Oscars over the years, and they are also a creative powerhouse behind cutting-edge content for advertising partners, digital platforms, games developers and live experiences both in Britain and abroad. Cofounded by Peter Lord and David Sproxton in 1976, the company is now owned by its employees.

As teens, Lord and Sproxton came up with the animated superhero Aardman, who was purchased by the BBC’s Vision On series and gave their animation studio its name. The follow-up series Take Hart introduced their first clay character Morph, and they went on to develop their technique with work on Channel 4. In 1985, Nick Park met Lord and Sproxton while studying at the National Film and Television School, where he created the cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his faithful dog Gromit for the Oscar-nominated short A Grand Day Out (1990), which was pipped for that Oscar by his Aardman short Creature Comforts (1989). The second Wallace and Gromit film The Wrong Trousers (1993) won the Oscar, as did their third adventure A Close Shave (1995), which also introduced Shaun the Sheep.

Feature films produced by Aardman include the acclaimed Chicken Run (2000), the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit feature The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), the Oscar-nominated The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists! (2012), A Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015), Early Man (2018) and this year’s A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019). Production is currently underway on a Chicken Run sequel. Along with movies, Aardman developed the Bafta-nominated console game 11-11: Memories Retold; the StorySign app, which helps teach deaf children to read; and a 4D theme park experience at Efteling in the Netherlands.

In addition to this special 40th Anniversary Award, the Critics’ Circle will present British film icons Sally Potter and Sandy Powell with the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Cinema at this year’s ceremony alongside the regular line-up of awards in various international and British/Irish categories. A full list of nominations and special awards will be announced on Tuesday 17th December at The May Fair Hotel by British actors Jenn Murray and John Dagleish.

The 40th London Critics’ Circle Film Awards presented by Pearl Pictures Productions will be held on Thursday 30th January at the May Fair Hotel, part of the Edwardian Hotels London group. The red carpet event is also sponsored by the May Fair Hotel and Rémy Martin. Audi is the official car of the Critics’ Circle Film Awards.

Special Awards presented at the Critics’ Circle Film Awards:
1980: Peter Sellers
1982: Bill Forsyth
1983: Artificial Eye
1985: Palace Pictures
1986: Lillian Gish
1987: Pinewood Studios
1988: Museum of the Moving Image, Dilys Powell and Leslie Halliwell
1989: Alec Guinness and Charles Crichton
1990: Simon Ralph and Penelope Houston
1991: John Sayles
1994: Barry Norman
1995: John Gielgud and Peter Rogers
1996: Norman Wisdom and Jack Cardiff
1997: Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Paul Scofield
1998: John Boorman and John Box
2001: Eon Productions
2004: Norma Heyman
2009: Francis Ford Coppola