Cracking boost for Blackpool Gromit!

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TWO of Britain's best loved animated characters are the latest children's favourites to sign up to the expanding Pleasure Beach.

Wensleydale cheese-loving Wallace, who is voiced by Last of the Summer Wine actor Peter Sallis, and his dog Gromit are household names, and are the creation of Lancashire born animator Nick Park.

They are set to be the subject of a new ride at the South Shore attraction.

Their Oscar-winning animator, who grew up in Walmer Bridge, near Preston, appeared on the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island discs where he revealed the new plans.

He said: "We are in the middle of discussions with Blackpool Pleasure Beach about a Wallace and Gromit ride.

"It's not a hair-raising terrifying ride, it's a family friendly ride."

During the show, Mr Park also spoke about the time he spent in Blackpool as child, revealing he frequently came to the town to see the Illuminations switched on.

The plans for the new ride coincide with the development of Nickelodeon Land, which is set to open in April 2011.

The development will include 14 new rides based on the children's television channel and will be the only attraction of its kind in the United Kingdom.

Coun Maxine Callow, portfolio holder for Tourism and Regeneration, said the Wallace and Gromit addition to the theme park has come after businesses recognised the town's potential.

She said: "It's fantastic news, I'm absolutely delighted.

"As a town we are going from strength to strength and I welcome them as it means more local jobs and it will help the economy.

"We have said all along we have sent out the right messages to business to come and invest."

A spokesman for the fun park said: "We can confirm we are working with Aardman Animations, on a Wallace and Gromit themed ride, due to open at Pleasure Beach in 2012.

"We are extremely excited to be working closely with such a well-loved brand on this project and will make further announcements in due course."

After first appearing on television screens in 1989, the animated pair appeared in short films A Grand Day Out in 1989, The Wrong Trousers in 1993 and a Close Shave in 1995.

They then starred intheir own feature in The Curse of the Were Rabbit, in 2005 and their creatornow hopes the new ride will open in 2012.