Christmas around the telly is a staple of the UK holiday season. Shows like Doctor Who, The Great British Baking Show, All Creature Great & Small, and Call The Midwife join in the tradition of holiday episodes that air between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day. But along with these regular staples, the BBC regularly commissions other new programs to help fill the calendar, like last year's Around The World In 80 Days. For 2022, the channel will bring an adaptation of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse, featuring an all-star cast.
Based on the 2019 bestselling illustrated book by Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse is conceived as a traditional hand-drawn animated project. The book is rendered in calligraphy and pen and ink drawings typically associated with Shel Silverstein or A.A. Milne. However, unlike the book, which is primarily black and white with occasional watercolor highlights, the new special will be "reimagined in full color," according to the press release.
Author Mackesy will co-direct the animated adaptation along with Peter Baynton, best known for his work as the animation director for Paddington 2, with producer J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions as the company behind the project. Mackesy is also credited with co-adapting the script with Jon Croker (also from Paddington 2.) Isobel Waller-Bridge (Phoebe Waller-Bridge's award-winning sister, best known for Emma) will compose the original score played by the BBC Concert Orchestra.
The BBC has not released a logline for The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse as of yet, but here's the book's synopsis:
Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this beautiful book, following the tale of a curious boy, a greedy mole, a wary fox and a wise horse who find themselves together in sometimes difficult terrain, sharing their greatest fears and biggest discoveries about vulnerability, kindness, hope, friendship and love. The shared adventures and important conversations between the four friends are full of life lessons that have connected with readers of all ages.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse is the story of four unlikely friends and has assembled an all-star lineup to voice the titular characters. Tom Hollander (The Ipcress File) plays the Mole, Idris Elba (Luther) will voice the Fox, and Gabriel Byrne (War of the Worlds) voices the Horse. Newcomer Jude Coward Nicoll will play the Boy.
In the press release, author Mackesy said, "The journey of making the film of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse with my ridiculously talented and kind animation team has been a magical one." He continued, "It's so great to think the story will be in the nation's homes this Christmas — and I really hope it helps bring comfort, love, and laughter." BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore agreed, saying, "It's the perfect fit for Christmas on the BBC and a reminder to us all about what really matters in this world."
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse is planned to premiere on BBC One and iPlayer on Christmas Day. The adaptation has not been picked up for release on this side of the pond yet, but chances are it will find a home over here in early 2023.