As its Wallace & Gromit movie vies for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, Aardman Animations has sold its Creature Comforts TV series to U.S. broadcast network CBS. Aardman’s clay-animated British hit is being adapted for American audiences and will join the CBS lineup as a midseason replacement for 2006-2007.
CBS will initially air seven half-hour episodes for Creature Comforts, which takes audio interviews of people on the street and uses them as voice tracks for stop-motion animals. The concept was hatched in 1989 as a short which went on to win the Oscar in 1991. Directed by Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park, the film was expanded into the U.K. TV series in 2003 and now follows the path to American sets recently traveled by Brit re-dos such as NBC’s short-lived Coupling and current hit The Office.
Aardman will produce the new series in Los Angeles and at its Bristol, England studios. King of the Hill producer Kit Boss is serving as exec producer, along with Miles Bullough, The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Aardman’s Nick Park, David Sproxton and Peter Lord. Richard Goleszowski, the U.K. director of Creature Comforts, is supervising director of the American version.
The British series began airing on cable network BBC America in December of 2005, introducing U.S. auds to the Annecy Award-winning plasticine comedy. In addition to the American incarnation, Aardman and Gotham Group are also developing a computer-animated kung fu chicken series titled Chop Socky Chooks.
Creature Comforts will be CBS’s first attempt at primetime animation since failed efforts Fish Police (1992) and Family Dog (1993). With 2004’s early demise of NBC’s expensive DreamWorks CG toon, Father of the Pride, night-time animation is proving to be a tricky proposition for the big networks. Only FOX has had sustained success with The Simpsons and Family Guy.