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Levi Roots goes back to CLAY-sics

Likeness: Roots strikes a pose with his Aardman ‘claymation’, which took over four weeks to create

HE CREATED a sauce that is sold in almost every major UK supermarket; that sauce is now the key ingredient of products sold in several stores and fast food chains; and the success of that sauce, together with his charismatic personality has made him an undisputed UK brand.

What’s next for such a successful entrepreneur? It’s obvious: he has to be immortalised in clay!
Indeed, Levi Roots has been elevated to the ‘claymation’ hall of fame, as one of only a handful of humans turned into a model by animation studio Aardman.

The creators of famed animated series Wallace & Gromit have worked their magic on 53-year-old Roots, creating a clay model in his image for the entrepreneur’s latest advertising campaign.

The new £2 million cinema and TV commercial for Roots’ much-loved Reggae Reggae Sauce, sees the Jamaican-born entrepreneur in animation form, playing the guitar and singing his sauce’s famed ditty: “It’s so nice/ I had to name it twice/ me call it Reggae Reggae Sauce/ hot Reggae Reggae sauce.”

The commercial, which will be premiered in a primetime ITV slot on May 3, invites families to ‘Put some music in your food’ and features animated Roots singing (real life Roots provided the vocals for his character), whilst cooking up a barbecue in the back garden of a Brixton home. (Look out for the Brixton Hill road name at the start of the advert!) And just like real life Roots, the clay version is a reggae-loving Rasta – in fact, Roots thinks his claymation shows him in a more flattering light.

"He's definitely cooler and more handsome than me,” says Levi, who shot to fame promoting his sauce on Dragons’ Den back in 2007. “I've always been a big fan of Wallace & Gromit so it's a real treat to be made into one of their [Aardman’s] characters; if not a little surreal.”

It took a dedicated team of six model-makers four-and-a-half weeks to create Roots’ claymation character. And at 50cm tall, the character stands head and shoulders above other Aardman creations, which include clay figures of stars such as Barry White, Nina Simone and The Spice Girls.

Roots’ 60-second advert was crafted at Aardman's Bristol studio over three months, using 20kg of clay. Just two seconds of filmed animation takes a whole day to produce. Thankfully, after all the painstaking work, Roots is pleased with the final product.

“Seeing my character on screen is like watching myself on Dragons' Den all over again and I keep wondering, ‘is that really me?' But I love it. They've done a great job.”

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