Sky One has ordered Roald & Beatrix, The Tale Of The Curious Mouse – a one-off ninety-minute drama starring Dawn French that is inspired by the true story of when a six-year-old Roald Dahl meets his idol Beatrix Potter. It is being eyed as the centerpiece of Sky One’s Christmas schedule.
In Roald & Beatrix, The Tale Of The Curious Mouse famed author Beatrix Potter (French) is coming to the end of her career. With her publisher hounding her for her next draft, she’s unable to concentrate and has had enough of writing children’s books. It’s not just her motivation that she has lost, her optometrist has recognised she has failing eyesight. With Christmas approaching, Beatrix is pressured, feeling increasingly out of touch with her readers, not to mention the trespassing fans and jovial door-knocking carol singers. Her Cumbrian farm and ever-growing Herdwick sheep collection, her long-suffering husband William and disobedient animals including much loved pig called Sally, act as her only real comfort as she looks for inspiration and resists taking the easy way out with her Publisher.
Two hundred or so miles away in Wales, life is changing for an anxious young boy called Roald. Having recently lost his older sister and now his father, the once happy six-year-old has found solace and comfort in books. The beloved tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck fill his mind, distracting him from the funeral, sadness and the revelation that he might be sent to boarding school. Wanting to run away, he is encouraged by his mother Sophie to follow his dreams and visit his hero Beatrix Potter. Roald pushes his anxiety aside and they set off on his first big adventure. Their extraordinary journey is filled with unpredictable and humorous characters all of whom ignite Roald’s imagination and provide comfort to his grieving mother. The dream of meeting his favourite author is eventually realised and their very special encounter proves to be both a magical and life changing moment for them both.
John Hannah (Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is on-board to narrate the one-off. Rounding out the cast is Jessica Hynes (W1A) as Roald Dahl’s mother, Sophie; Rob Brydon (The Trip) as Beatrix Potter’s long-suffering husband William; Nina Sosanya (Brave New World) as Beatrix Potter’s publisher; Nick Mohammed (Intelligence) as Beatrix Potter’s optometrist; newcomer Harry Tayler as Roald Dahl; and Alison Steadman (Gavin And Stacey) and Bill Bailey (In The Long Run) as “unpredictable and humorous characters”.
Roald & Beatrix, The Tale Of The Curious Mouse will blend live action camera work, stop-frame animation and puppetry together to bring to life the vivid imaginations and magical worlds of these two inspiring and renowned children’s authors. It was penned by Abi Wilson and is being produced by Hartswood Films for Sky Studios. Elaine Cameron is the producer, while David Kerr is directing. The executive producers are Abi Wilson, Sue Vertue and Dan Cheesbrough for Hartswood Films and Jon Mountague for Sky Studios. Filming is now underway with support from Creative Wales.
“Roald Dahl taught us ‘a little magic can take you a long way’. This Christmas, Sky presents the magical tale of how a boyhood Dahl met his idol Beatrix Potter”, said Sky Studios’ Director of Comedy Jon Mountague, who commissioned the drama alongside Sky’s Managing Director Of Content Zai Bennett. “With Dawn French leading an all-star cast this surprising story, inspired by a real life encounter, is a tale as much for our times as yesteryear. Produced by Hartswood, it’s a giant peach of a Christmas gift.”
“This film follows a joyous and magical journey involving two of Britain’s most loved children’s authors. As filmmakers in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, we are similarly embarking on a journey – quite unlike anything any of us have ever experienced”, commented Hartswood Films’ Elaine Cameron. “The optimism and resilience of the cast and crew and the bravery of Sky to back us to the hilt, is as inspiring to me as a producer as the story itself. We are delighted that Abi’s wonderful writing has attracted such a stunningly funny cast.”
While Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Wales’ Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, added: “I’m delighted that Creative Wales has been able to support this production, which promises to be a magical adventure based on two authors which have strong links with Wales. We are pleased that Wales is the location of choice for this production from Hartswood Films, who have a strong track record in the delivery of high quality drama in Wales. This production provides a timely and welcome boost to the skilled crew and supply chain returning to work on such an exciting, prestigious project.”