Rex the Runt is an animated (claymation) television show produced by Aardman Animations for BBC Bristol in association with EVA Entertainment and Egmont Imagination. Its main characters are four plasticine dogs: Rex, Wendy, Bad Bob and Vince.
The series began with a short, Ident, in 1989 directed by Richard Goleszowski. After a long gestation period this developed into two unaired shorts and then thirteen ten-minute episodes that first aired over two weeks on BBC2 from December 1998. A second thirteen episode series aired from September 2001 on the same channel. As well as the core cast guest voices included Paul Merton, Morwenna Banks, Judith Chalmers, Antoine de Caunes, Bob Holness, Bob Monkhouse, Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton, Arthur Smith, June Whitfield, Pam Ayres and Eddie Izzard.
The animation is unusual in that the models are almost two-dimensional and are animated to exaggerate this - they are flattened in appearance and animated on a sheet of glass with the backgrounds behind the sheet.
Rex, the protagonist. As the title hints, he is a timid, irritable runt. He can often be a smart aleck, and a common target of physical abuse from other characters. His favourite superhero is Rocket Raymond, and Rex does his best to follow in his shadows. He is apparently the gang's straight man, and provides solutions as well as conflicts.
Bad Bob, more commonly known as just Bob, is the typical household junkie, as well as providing comic relief. He is described in a song as a "big, fat slob", up to the point of eating the gang out of house and home. His friends, and occasionally even himself, describe him as a "Big, fat, jelly-wobbly, fat bast-", usually getting cut off towards the end. His favourite food is sausages. He is distinguishable by his eye patch, protruding belly button, and often carries around a revolver almost the size of himself. However disagreeable he might be, he can be highly intelligent and has a big heart. He seems to enjoy cross-dressing, doing so many times throughout the show.
Wendy is the only female housemate, distinguishable by her eyelashes, pink colour and wears a pink bow in her head. She is cynical, sarcastic, and can be fiercely independent. She once had a short-lived crush with singer Johnny Saveloy (a giant anthropomorphic sausage who brainwashed people into his cult, and kept his body alive through people's souls). Wendy is hardly ever seen doing any housework or chores, and can provide solutions to problems albeit in a distant or non-caring way. She possesses a lot of musical talent, and played the guitar when the gang formed a band.
Vince can be regarded as the pet of the household, since the others usually treat him as one. He is distinguished by his prominent buckteeth and mismatched eyes. He is only capable of stringing a maximum of two or three words together while speaking, and once had an alcohol-like addiction to soy sauce. Vince suffers from Random Pavarotti Disease, causing him to randomly blurt out opera-like singing. While he appears to be mentally retarded, he can actually be incredibly intelligent at times, such as building an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine designed to kill a pesky mouse using random items from the attic.
Doctor Dogg is a semi-regular character. Moustachioed, complacent and greedy, he's an opportunistic money-grabber of a medico, whose habitual charge for any treatment is "ten quid" - regardless of whether the cure works or not. He isn't above testing experimental drugs on his fellow dogs, either - and managed to re-contaminate Vince with Random Pavarotti Disease.
Arthur Dustcart, another semi-regular character, who first makes an appearance in the last episode of the first series, but appears quite frequently in the second. He is an ugly but experienced waste-disposal operative, sporting sleepy mismatched eyes, a neckerchief, a pair of dirty underpants and a large nose with prominent nose hairs. Despite his seemingly grotesque appearance and smell, he and Wendy seem to be getting on rather well, much to the annoyance of Rex. He becomes a friend of the household when he helps find Rex after he was turned into spaghetti.
The stories are quite surreal with plots including:
- Shrinking a submarine to enter Vince's brain in order to cure his random Pavarotti disease
- Destroying the world by drilling in the north pole
- Going back in time to prevent their house being stolen
- Falling down through the bottom of the bed where they soon find a sex clinic in the middle of a jungle
- Using Bob's shrinking ray to reduce the city of Birmingham to a domestic ornament (with a waste disposal problem)
- Rex being reduced to spaghetti
- Vince learning to say the word "sausages"
- Bad Bob joining a punk gang called The Slippers ("We got sole!")
- Rex discovering Bad Bob is making Rocket Raymond jetpack for his birthday, and he tries it on only to be trapped on a planet who believes only Rex can save them from the evil Bro Ca Lee beast (which is a giant sprig of broccoli)
- Bad Bob getting plastic surgery so he can look thin.
- Wendy joining the army
- Vince declaring war on France
- Vince being held hostage by killer plants
- The gang going to an out of town garden shop only to find out it is a spaceship
- Bad Bob hosting a show while Rex is on holiday
Plots also regularly make reference to the fact that characters are made of Plasticine, such as one episode where Wendy goes to a hair salon and starts melting when under the hairdryer.
References to other Aardman productions
Several episodes of Rex the Runt
contain inside references to other television programmes created by Aardman Animations:
- In the episode "Adventures on Telly Part I", Wallace (from the Wallace and Gromit series) is washing the windows on Rex's house, until Bad Bob pushes his ladder over (in the film A Close Shave, Wallace operates a window washing business).
- Pib and Pog, two of Aardman's lesser known creations, are present in the spectator gallery during the courtroom scene from "The Trials of Wendy" and are also present in the audience watching Rex's band in "Stinky's Search for a Star"
- In the episode "Johnny Saveloy's Undoing", two of the jars containing the chemical essences of various stars are labelled "Wallace" and "Gromit". Another jar on the top shelf reads "Nick Park".
- The exorcist called upon in "Patio" is actually Morph, a character from an Aardman children's show, wearing a trench coat, hat, and large moustache.
- There are two references in the episode "Wayne the Zebra": A Chicken Run-style chicken is rejected during the auditions (with Bad Bob making a comment regarding the recent popularity of chickens, referring to the film's success), and Bad Bob consults a book entitled Cracking Animation (which lists zebras as one of the top five hardest things to animate, due to their stripes), which has the same distinctive yellow cover as Aardman's how-to book, Creating 3-D Animation.
- The episode entitled "A Crap Day Out" may be a pun on the Wallace and Gromit short film A Grand Day Out.
- Bad Bob's eye-patch switches from eye to eye occasionally. Sometimes it switches many times in one episode. According to Dr. Dogg, this is because "-his eye sometimes pops back into his skull and out into the other socket. This is due to the enormous gravitational forces within his head - or so he tells me". Also the model and size of his revolver changes constantly within episodes, occasionally even between separate views.
- In Aardman's 2006 film Flushed Away, the character 'Shocky' wears a Rex the Runt T-shirt.
- In "The Trials Of Wendy", the footage used of Vince being shot is a clip from the two original Rex the Runt shorts (one of which can been seen as an extra on the Chicken Run DVD).
- In "The Plasticine Gene", Wendy applies "Wet Dog" perfume, the same brand she models in an advertisement in "The Trials Of Wendy".
- In "Wendys Hot Date" she refers to My Little Pork Pie a song by Johnny Saveloy, from an episode in the first season.
- Amounts of money needed are commonly ten pounds (or quid).
- The same footage is often shown on the TV, including: a pigeon walking along a road and humming, a young Johnny Saveloy and some dancing potatoes on the "Comedy Potato Channel".
- The name "Rex the Runt" contains irony in that "Rex" is Latin for king.
Random Pavarotti Disease
Random Pavarotti Disease is a psychological disease that mainly affects plasticine dogs. The condition causes the random blurting out of opera-like singing. The only known cure is to go into either the victim's brain or bum, using a shrunken submarine. It rarely works, and, on the rare occasion it does work, causes the random blurting out of programmes from BBC Radio 4 instead (the Shipping Forecast and Gardeners' Question Time were used to demonstrate this).
(by air date
- "Holiday in Vince" (21/12/1998)
The family try to cure Vince from his Random Pavarotti Disease by miniaturising a submarine and go on a journey though Vince's brain.
- "Stinky's Search for a Star" (21/12/1998)
The family enters a talent contest hoping to win enough money to pay the gas bill.
- "Easter Island" (22/12/1998)
Plans for a holiday in New Zealand go awry when Rex's helicopter lands on Easter Island.
- "Too Many Dogs" (22/12/1998)
After Rex's house is stolen, Bad Bob uses the gobackintimeatron to recover it.
- "The City Shrinkers" (23/12/1998)
The Runts win Birmingham in the lottery.
- "Adventures on Telly, Part I" (23/12/1998)
Bad Bob accidentally robs a bank.
- "Adventures on Telly, Part II" (24/12/1998)
The family is short of money again, and lend themselves to animal experiments.
- "Adventures on Telly, Part III" (25/12/1998)
After destroying the Earth, the Runts head towards a black hole.
- "The Trials of Wendy" (27/12/1998)
Wendy is arrested after shooting Vince.
- "Under the Duvet" (30/12/1998)
The Runts visit The University of Love under their bed.
- "Bob's International Hiccup Centre" (31/12/1998)
Bob loses his comic timing so he turns to medicine.
- "Johnny Saveloy's Undoing" (31/12/1998)
Wendy joins Johnny Saveloy's following.
- "Carbonara" (1/1/1999)
Bad Bob discovers a sausage mincer in the shed.
Season 2 (by air date)
- "Mouse in Me Kitchen" (23/9/2001)
Upon returning home, Rex finds that his kitchen has been overtaken by a mouse.
- "Wendy's Hot Date" (30/9/2001)
Wendy gets a date with a handsome dog, who is also called Rex.
- "Patio" (7/10/2001)
The garden ants object when the Runts lay a patio.
- "A Crap Day Out" (14/10/2001)
A new garden centre is opening, and Bob needs a new shed.
- "Slim Bob" (21/10/2001)
Bob consults Dr Dogg about weight loss.
- "Private Wendy" (28/10/2001)
Vince, Wendy, Rex and Bob join the army.
- "Rocket Raymond" (4/11/2001)
A planet in outer space believes that Rex is their hero Rocket Raymond.
- "The Plasticene Gene" (11/11/2001)
Dr Dogg clones Vince.
- "Wendy's New Hairdo" (18/11/2001)
Wendy gets a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for her truth serum.
- "The Art of Cooking" (25/11/2001)
Bad Bob steals Rex's food creations and enters them in an exhibition.
- "Bob Joins a Gang" (2/12/2001)
Bad Bob joins a not-so-bad gang.
- "Wayne the Zebra" (9/12/2001)
With Rex on holiday, Bob is left in charge of production, but can his choice for the star character, Wayne the Zebra, fulfil expectations?
- "Hole in the Garden" (16/12/2001)
Bad Bob's lawn mower crashes through the garden and lands in Australia.
Voice Characterisation Actors
Main Cast Voices
Guest Star Voices
- Morwenna Banks as Dog Home Owner ("A Holiday in Vince")
- Judith Chalmers as Holiday Programme Presenter ("A Holiday in Vince")
- Bob Holness as Mr Formal ("Adventures on Telly, Part I")
- Eddie Izzard as Melting Blob Man ("Adventures on Telly, Part III"), and Easter Island Head Aliens ("Easter Island")
- Kathy Burke as Mrs Mandelbrotska ("Adventures on Telly, Part III")
- Antoine de Caunes as Stinky Basil ("Too Many Dogs", "Stinky's Search for a Star"), and French Delegate ("Bob's International Hiccup Centre")
- June Whitfield as The Judge ("The Trials of Wendy")
- Simon Day as Constable Funnyname ("The Trials of Wendy", "Stinky's Search for a Star")
- Pam Ayres as Aunty Brenda ("Under the Duvet")
- Stanley Unwin as Mr Accountant ("Johnny Saveloy's Undoing")
- Bob Monkhouse as Johnny Saveloy ("Johnny Saveloy's Undoing")
- Bobby Ball as Tiddles ("Mouse in Me Kitchen")
- Graham Norton as Osvaldo Halitosis ("Patio") and the Plants ("A Crap Day Out")
- Tommy Cannon as Wayne ("Wayne the Zebra")
- Phill Jupitus as The Mouse ("Mouse in Me Kitchen"), The Ants ("Patio") and Sergeant Major ("Private Wendy")
- Jonathan Ross as Handsome Rex ("Wendy's Hot Date") and Awards Announcer ("Wendy's New Hairdo")
- Loyd Grossman as himself ("The Art of Cooking")
- Writers: Richard Goleszowski, Kevin Wrench & Andrew Franks
- Music & Theme Tune: Stuart Gordon
- Song Composed by: Kevin Wrench & Andrew Franks
- Executive Producers: Mikael Shields, Steve Walsh (EVA Entertainment), Ulla Brockenhuus-Schack, Poul Kofod (Egmont Imagination)
- Series Producer: Michael Rose
- Producer: Jacqueline White
- Devised & Directed by: Richard Goleszowski
- Executive Producers for Aardman: Peter Lord, David Sproxton
- Executive Producer for BBC Bristol: Colin Rose
- An Aardman Animations Production for BBC Bristol in association with EVA Entertainment & Egmont Imagination
- Written by: Ben Caudell, Peter Holmes, Andrew Viner
- Original Music: Stuart Gordon, Ben Jones
- Executive Producer for BBC: Colin Rose
- Executive Producers for Egmont Imagination: Paul Kofod & Tom Van Waveren
- Executive Producers for Aardman: Peter Lord & David Sproxton, Michael Rose
- Producer: Jacqueline White
- Directed by: Richard Goleszowski, Dan Capozzi, Chris Sadler, Sam Fell, Peter Peake
- An Aardman Animations Production for BBC Bristol in association with Egmont Imagination
Rex The Runt merchandise
Series One has been released on VHS in the United Kingdom and on DVD in South Korea. A DVD of all 26 episodes has been released in the United States, but is region-free, so works on any DVD player, regardless of location.
- Rex The Runt: The Complete First Season (VHS) (B00005NB24)
- Rex The Runt: The Complete Collection (DVD) (Region 0) (B000068QOF)
- Rex The Runt: Rainy Day Companion (Book written by Andrew Franks and Kevin Wrench, a.k.a the voices of Rex and Bad Bob) (ISBN 0-340-74862-1)
- Aardman's Darkside (a compilation DVD featuring episodes of Rex The Runt, released on October 18 2006) (DVD) (B000FS9SDM)
- Rex The Runt plush toys of the four main characters were available via Aardman at one point.
- Both series are available for purchase on the iTunes Store.