A stellar voice cast has been announced for Channel 4, Lupus Films and HarperCollins’ captivating animation The Tiger Who Came to Tea which is set to air this Christmas...
Based on the classic children’s book by the much-loved Judith Kerr OBE, who sadly died in May this year, the half-hour film will bring to life the vivid images and irresistible story of this classic picture book turning it into a truly festive family treat.
Produced by Lupus Films, the makers of the hugely-popular We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Snowman and The Snowdog, The Tiger Who Came to Tea tells the delightful story of 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, stripy tiger – they invite him inside where he proceeds to eat everything in sight before making a timely exit, just before Daddy gets home.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea has sold over five million copies since it was first published in 1968. Inspired by Judith Kerr’s daughter Tacy, the story of Sophie and her extraordinary, stripy teatime guest has enchanted generations of children and has become a timeless classic. Lupus Films' distinctive, hand-drawn animated style will beautifully bring it to life to charm a whole new audience this Christmas, when Channel 4 will broadcast the one-off half-hour special.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Tamsin Greig, David Oyelowo, David Walliams and Paul Whitehouse will portray the familiar characters of Daddy, Mummy, Tiger, Narrator and Milkman respectively, while seven-year-old newcomer Clara Ross makes her TV debut as Sophie.
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, added “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.”
The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been adapted for the screen by Joanna Harrison and 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.
Images - Channel 4/Lupus Films