Tabby McTat – Jodie Whittaker to narrate the BBC’s Christmas animation (updated)

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Tabby McTat is the latest in a long line of animations based on the books of Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler. 

Updated 13/12/23: The BBC reveal Tabby McTat and Fred.

Christmas is coming, slowly but inexorably towards us, and the BBC have revealed a first image from their festive animation Tabby McTat.

The short film, adapting Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler, is the 11th adaptation made by Magic Light Pictures for the BBC. It follows the tale of a talented busker named Fred, and his musical cat.

Tabby McTat
Tabby McTat (c) Magic Light Pictures

Narrator Jodie Whittaker has spoken about the story:

“Tabby McTat is such a beautiful story about embracing change and the transitions in life as well – from childhood to adulthood and people going on journeys. There is so much warmth and celebration of family and community, but then there’s also, the moments of fear and loss that is often a gain.”

She also reflects on being a cat lover, with an adorable Star Wars link:

“We had cats when we were growing up. My cat gave birth under my bed, and it was magical. But then as a child you realise your parents don’t let you keep them all. ‘What? I thought we were going to have five kittens forever,’ but I was lucky, and I did get to keep one of them. Its name was phenomenal – Wicket W. Warrick – named after an Ewok, and it had an older brother called Teebo, another Ewok! And my cat was beautiful, very beautiful with long brown hair and looked like an Ewok and with a personality very similar to mine – needy and a bit feral!”

Wickett W Warrick (the Ewok)
Wickett W. Warwick the Ewok (c) Lucasfilm

Writer Julia Donaldson added:

“The story is very special to me because as well as having been a busker myself, I’m also a great cat lover. At the time I wrote it we had cats, but they were very old and alas, are no more. But now we have two Tabby cats and they’re called Tabitha and McTat.”

Original article (of 12/05/2023) follows…

Tabby McTat – Jodie Whittaker to narrate the BBC’s Christmas animation

It might only be May, but the BBC have already announced one of our festive treats. Following in the now well-established tradition, they will be bringing Tabby McTat to our screens.

If you’re not familiar with the tale, here’s the premise…

The film follows Fred, a busker, and his cat Tabby McTat who enjoy a contented life singing on the streets of London to delighted audiences. One day when chasing a thief, Fred falls and breaks his leg and is whisked away in an ambulance. What will become of the busker’s cat left alone on the city streets?

Tabby McTat book cover art crop

The film marks the 11th adaptation of Donaldson and Scheffler’s work produced by Magic Light Pictures for the BBC. Animation services are provided by Red Star Studio. Previous festive titles have included The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Stick Man and The Highway Rat.

These adaptations often attract a starry cast and Tabby McTat is no different with Jodie Whittaker on narration duties. Rob Brydon, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísú, Cariad Lloyd, Joanna Scanlan and Susan Wokoma all lend their voices to the animation too.

The directors of Tabby McTat are Sarah Scrimgeour & Jac Hamman (Superworm); the writers are Max Lang and Suzanne Lang; the producers are Barney Goodland and Michael Rose of Magic Light Pictures.

While naturally there’s no timeslot yet, we’d expect it slap bang in the middle of the BBC One Christmas Day schedule – probably just before the King’s Speech.