The voice cast has been announced for Channel 4, Lupus Films and HarperCollins’ animation The Tiger Who Came to Tea which is set to air this Christmas.
Based on the classic children’s book by Judith Kerr, the half-hour film will star Benedict Cumberbatch, Tamsin Greig, David Oyelowo, David Walliams and Paul Whitehouse while seven-year-old newcomer Clara Ross makes her TV debut as Sophie.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea has sold over five million copies since it was first published in 1968.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Daddy, said: “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.”
David Oyelowo, who plays the Tiger said: “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.”
David Walliams, who plays the Narrator, said: “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.”
Tamsin Greig, who plays Mummy, said: “The story has a universal appeal. It’s about encountering the other and the danger of the unknown adventure. What drew me is that Mummy is not there imposing authority, but she’s agreeing to go on the journey with her daughter, and be a child with her.”
Paul Whitehouse, who plays Milkman, said: “I wanted to get involved because it has fond memories for me and a close association with my girls. I first read the book to my eldest daughter who is now 26, and I’ve got quite a young daughter as well that I now read it to. It’s one of the not-that-many books where the girl is the central character … I’ve read it to all my four girls, so it’s never been out of my life!”
Clara Ross, who plays Sophie, said: “I do like reading books because they take you to an imaginary world, and this book is really nice. I like all the characters and that an animal can talk because in real life, how can an animal talk? I’m really excited that my voice is going to be animated and I can’t wait for it coming out at Christmas on Channel 4.”
Caroline Hollick, Channel 4 Head of Drama said: “‘We’re delighted to have assembled such a fantastic cast to tell this wonderful and much-loved children’s classic. It really does promise to be a fabulous festive treat for all the family.”
Ruth Fielding, producer for Lupus Films, said: “We are thrilled to have attached such an amazing cast to bring to life the characters in this timeless family favourite. It’s a real honour to be working with such a glittering array of talent who are going to help make this animation truly special.”
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 (Co-Director of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Assistant Director of The Snowman and The Snowdog).
The book has been adapted for the screen by Joanna Harrison (Co-Director of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Co-Writer and Art Director of The Snowman and The Snowdog).
It was commissioned for Channel 4 by Caroline Hollick, Channel 4 Head of Drama and Chloe Tucker, Channel 4 Commissioning Executive, Drama.
Universal Content Group is managing the international TV distribution, home entertainment and theatrical rights to the special.
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