Though we haven't even celebrated Halloween yet, it's time to talk about Christmas television. Yes, really. And while we expect holiday specials to arrive from all the usual cozy suspects: Call the Midwife, The Great British Baking Show, All Creatures Great and Small, a few newcomers will also hit our screens, including an animated adaptation of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse.
A traditional hand-drawn animation project, the film is based on Charles Mackey's internationally best-selling book of the same name. It aims to bring to life the magic of the original's distinctive illustrations, here reimagined in full color than the book's predominantly black and white drawings.
The animated short is set to air on the BBC this holiday season, and streamer Apple TV+ has announced that they'll be bringing it to American audiences on Christmas Day. (And given that the platform already features several popular kids programs and specials, of both the animated and live-action variety, this seems like a natural fit.)
As you may have guessed from the title, the story centers on the unlikely friendship between four very different characters: a curious boy, a greedy mole, a wary fox, and a wise horse, who set off on a journey together to find the boy's home. A sweet tale of courage, kindness, and hope, it's a perfect story for the holiday season.
The film features an all-star voice cast, including Tom Hollander (The Ipcress File) as the Mole, Idris Elba (Luther) will as the Fox, and Gabriel Byrne (War of the Worlds) as the Horse. Newcomer Jude Coward Nicoll plays the Boy.
“The journey of making the film of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse with my incredibly gifted animation team has been a magical one,” Mackesy said in a statement. “I never dreamt it would happen — but it’s so moving to think the story will be watched at Christmas. I really hope it brings a bit of joy, laughter, and comfort.”
Mackesy himself co-directed the animated adaptation alongside Peter Baynton, best known for his work as the animation director for Paddington 2. The author is also credited with co-adapting the script with Jon Croker (also from Paddington 2.) Look, if all these Paddington connections aren't getting you hyped, man, I don't know what to tell you.
The film is executive produced by Jony Ive and Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), with J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot as the production company behind the effort. Isobel Waller-Bridge (Phoebe Waller-Bridge's award-winning sister, best known for Emma) composed the original score, played by the BBC Concert Orchestra and conducted by Geoff Alexander.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse will premiere on Apple TV+ on December 25, 2022.