We are absolutely delighted to announce that The Tiger Who Came to Tea will air on Channel 4 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.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Brexit: The Uncivil War, Sherlock, Avengers: Infinity War), Tamsin Greig (Tamara Drewe, Friday Night Dinner, The Guilty, Episodes) David Oyelowo (Les Miserables, A United Kingdom, Nightingales) David Walliams (Walliams & Friend, Little Britain, Come Fly With Me) and Paul Whitehouse (Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, The Fast Show) 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.
Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, and 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.
Multi award-winning composer David Arnold and Oscar-winning lyricist Don Black penned the infectiously catchy tune ‘Hey Tiger!’ which has been recorded for the film by much loved singer-songwriter and entertainer Robbie Williams. The song will play over a visually ambitious animated fantasy segment featuring the tiger in a range of never-before-seen locations, imagined from the point of view of Sophie, the little girl who receives an unexpected visit from the tiger.
The music for ‘Hey Tiger!’ and the original score for The Tiger Who Came to Tea, based on the best-selling book by Judith Kerr, have been composed by multi-award-winning composer David Arnold who, among his many credits, has scored five James Bond films and a plethora of films and television shows, including Sherlock. The song’s lyrics have been composed by Oscar-winning lyricist and BBC R2 DJ Don Black, who incidentally has also provided lyrics for five James Bond films, as well as a number of classic hits, including ‘Born Free’ which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1966. Robbie Williams performs the song with trademark style and personality. The 18-times Brit Award winner and the UK’s best-selling solo artist, Robbie has hit No. 1 with seven singles and 10 albums, including two swing-influenced releases. The score was recorded and mixed at Air Studios.
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 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.”
Ann-Janine Murtagh, Executive Publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books, said: “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.”
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.
Channel 4’s last festive children’s classic, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, also produced by Lupus Films, was the channel’s most watched programme of 2016 with over eight million viewers over the festive period.