Benedict Cumberbatch, Tamsin Greig, David Oyelowo, David Walliams and Paul Whitehouse have been set as voice cast for Channel 4’s animated Christmas special, The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Lupus Films is producing after striking a deal last year with HarperCollins Children’s Books to adapt the classic story by the late Judith Kerr. Joanna Harrison (Lupus’ We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, The Snowman And The Snowdog) penned the half-hour screen transfer.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea has sold over 5M copies since it was first published in 1968. Inspired by Kerr’s daughter, the story will be adapted in Lupus’ distinctive, hand-drawn animated style and air this holiday season.
The tale looks at what happens when the doorbell rings just as Sophie and her Mummy are sitting down to tea in the kitchen. Confronted with a very unexpected guest — a big, furry, striped tiger — they invite him inside where he proceeds to eat everything in sight before making a timely exit, just before Daddy gets home.
Cumberbatch is voicing Daddy with Episodes‘ Greig as Mummy. Oyelowo is Tiger, Little Britain‘s Walliams will narrate and Whitehouse (The Fast Show) is Milkman. Seven-year-old newcomer Clara Ross is making her TV debut as Sophie.
Cumberbatch says, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be playing a small part in bringing Judith Kerr’s timeless children’s classic to the screen for another generation to enjoy.”
Oyelowo adds, “Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play the iconic tiger from The Tiger Who Came To Tea? He’s a big cat of few words because he’s too busy eating! But I relished all of the growling, chomping and slurping, which called on me to find my inner cat.”
Walliams, a children’s book author in his own right, says, “I knew Judith well and I really adored her. She was an incredible inspiration — her work is so brilliant. The book is a thing of beauty — there isn’t a word out of place, the illustrations are just gorgeous. I really wanted to be a part of it and I was chuffed that she wanted me to narrate. I’m so proud to be associated with it because it’s a stone cold classic. Just like the book has been around for over 50 years, hopefully the animation will have this incredible longevity too.”
Channel 4’s last festive children’s classic, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, also produced by Lupus, was its most watched program of 2016 with over 8M viewers during the holiday period.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea is produced by Lupus Films’ founders Camilla Deakin and Ruth Fielding together with Ann-Janine Murtagh, Katie Fulford and Mia Jupp at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and directed by Robin Shaw (We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, The Snowman And The Snowdog).
Universal Content Group is handling international TV distribution, home entertainment and theatrical rights.
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