This Christmas' family fun spectacular comes in the form of The Highway Rat, the classic Julia Donaldson tale, starring David Tennant. The half hour adaptation will see David bring the ravenous rat's adventures to life and Julia has been talking at a screening of the programme about his take on her beloved character.
David will play the role with his native scottish accent and it's something that Julia approves of as that's the accent The Highway Rat always uses when she and her husband act out the tale at various public readings.
"When my husband Malcolm and I act The Highway Rat, because we lived in Glasgow for 25 years Malcolm always does a very Glaswegian Rat,” says Julia. “Maybe that’s why they cast David Tennant."
A new still from the story has also been released, showing the naughty rat robbing a poor Squirrel of his nuts!
"These nuts are probably rotten. These nuts are hard as can be, But I am the rat of the Highway, and these nuts belong to me!"
The 2011 book is inspired by the famous Alfred Noyes poem.The Highwayman The story follows a swashbuckling rat who robs other woodland creatures at swordpoint for their food: clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, even his own horse's hay. But what he really craves are cakes, sweets and biscuits, and it is his sweet tooth that leads to his sticky end when a crafty duck sets a trap for him.
Julia concludes that she still has a soft spot for the roguish rat "I must have thought early on that he could love sweets and chocolates which gave me a soft spot for him. But he’s one of my worst baddies. It’s a story about tyranny. He is a tyrant so I think I am a bit mixed up about the Highway Rat. These animals are tyrannised by him almost like a dictator but the chocolates and sweets thing – I am sneakily fond of him."
Other voice cast includes Rob Brydon, Nina Sosanya, Tom Hollander and Frances de le Tour.
The Highway Rat is a co-production between BBC One and Magic Light Pictures, the collaboration that brought Stick Man to life for Christmas 2015.
Michael Rose, Co-Founder, Magic Light Pictures, says: “We’re delighted to be in production with our next Donaldson/Scheffler title for BBC One. Julia and Axel have given us another brilliant story to work from – a swashbuckling tale of bandits and biscuits for all the family to enjoy.”
Elizabeth Kilgarriff, BBC Commissioning Editor, says: "I am thrilled to be continuing our relationship with Magic Light to make this special animation for BBC One. There isn't a better team to bring the Highway Rat to television screens. It will be a Christmas treat for all the family."
The Highway Rat comes to BBC One this Christmas