In May this year, author and illustrator, Judith Kerr sadly passed away. However, she left behind her a legacy of brilliant children’s literature including; a mischievous cat named Mog, the heart-rending tale of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (based on Kerr’s own childhood), and one of her best-known books, The Tiger Who Came to Tea.The Tiger Who Came to Tea is a classic children’s tale from the much-loved and much-missed author and illustrator, Judith Kerr. The story is about Sophie, who has tea party with her mother before afternoon tea is disturbed by a tiger no less!
Now, Channel 4 have announced that alongside Lupus Films and publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books they are adapting this vivid picture book story into an animated film. The book has been adapted for the screen by Joanna Harrison (Co-director of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Co-writer and Art Director of The Snowman and The Snow Dog.)
Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea is in seemingly safe hands with producers, Lupus Films, who are no stranger to animated adaptations of children’s literature having already created Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Snowman and The Snow Dog based on Raymond Brigg’s book of the same name.
As well as a great producer, this adaptation of The Tiger Who Came to Tea has a star-spangled voice cast. The animation will star the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch as Daddy, Tamsin Greig as Mummy, David Oyelowo as the Tiger, David Walliams as The Narrator, and Paul Whitehouse as the Milkman. The cast will also see a TV début performance from Clara Rose as Sophie.
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.”
Each of the cast members too had something to say about their role in the animation, the story of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the amazing contribution Judith Kerr made to children’s literature. 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.”
While, David Oyelowo who voices 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.”
The animation’s narrator, David Walliams 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 has fond memories of reading the book to his own children, he reminisces: “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!”
Finally, Clara Ross, who plays the central character of 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 Channel 4 adaptation will air over the Christmas period making it a great family favourite this festive period. Caroline Hollick, Channel 4’s Head of Drama explained: “‘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.”
While Executive Publisher at HarperCollins’ Children’s Books, Ann Janine Murtagh’s words echoed the feeling of the nation, “We are delighted to be working with such a brilliant cast who will introduce this treasured story to a whole new generation and honour the extraordinary woman who created it.”