Magic Light announce David Tennant to lead cast of ‘The Highway Rat’ coming to BBC One this Christmas

Magic Light Pictures

Magic Light Pictures, the Oscar-nominated entertainment company and owners of the hugely successful Gruffalo licensing programme, bring to life another magical tale from the UK’s number one picture book duo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

The Highway Rat airs on BBC One as a festive family highlight this Christmas.

This enchanting half hour animated special will be voiced by a stellar cast of British acting talent, featuring David Tennant as the Highway Rat, Rob Brydon as the narrator, Nina Sosanya as the Duck, Tom Hollander as the Squirrel and Frances de le Tour as the Rabbit.

First published in 2011, The Highway Rat is about a ravenous rat who craves buns, biscuits and all sweet things. Tearing along the highway, he searches for sugary treats to steal, until his sweet tooth leads him to a sticky end. “Give me your pastries and puddings! Give me your chocolate and cake! For I am the Rat of the Highway, and whatever I want I take.” A swashbuckling tale of bandits and biscuits the whole family will enjoy!

Daryl Shute, Brand Director at Magic Light, says; ‘It has been a privilege adapting this wonderful book of Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler’s for the screen, extending further our portfolio of animated half hour specials. 2017 has been an incredible year for us at Magic Light; March saw the opening of the World’s first Gruffalo theme park attraction at Chessington World of Adventures Resort; our ground-breaking Augmented Reality app ‘Gruffalo Spotter’ has enjoyed over 370,000 downloads; and our best in class licensing programme continues to grow in new categories as we expand our reach to wider audiences. We’re delighted to be exhibiting at BLE for this first time this year, to share our successes with the industry.’

Licensing opportunities are available for The Highway Rat, The Gruffalo and all Magic Light properties so please visit them at stand C90 during the show or contact Daryl Shute, Brand Director at

The Highway Rat marks the fifth adaptation by Magic Light Pictures of a Donaldson/Scheffler title. The most recent, Stick Man, premiered on BBC One on Christmas Day 2015 to achieve record ratings of 9.3 million viewers, with an overall 41% audience share, the fourth highest rated programme of the day. The film also won critical praise and a raft of global industry awards including the Annecy Crystal and a BAFTA nomination. Previous adaptations have also been showered with awards including two Oscar nominations, a BAFTA, an International Emmy and the Prix Jeunesse.

‘The Highway Rat’ (1×30’), is directed by Jeroen Jaspaert, director of Stick Man, and produced by Michael Rose and Martin Pope of Magic Light Pictures and. Animation services have again been provided by Triggerfish Animation in Cape Town. The composer is René Aubry. Acquired for BBC One by Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and Elizabeth Kilgarriff, Snr Commissioning Editor, BBC Drama.


For further information please contact:
Faber & Bishopp PR
Steph Faber – Tamara Bishopp –

About Magic Light Pictures
Magic Light Pictures makes imaginative entertainment for audiences, families and children worldwide.

The company creates high quality films and products and has built the wonderful Gruffalo brand over many years.

Last year BBC One screened the company’s star-studded animation of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes as a family Christmas treat.

The company directly manages production, licensing, global distribution and marketing. Magic Light has sold its award winning films, ‘The Gruffalo’, ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’, ‘Room on the Broom’, ‘Stick Man’ and ‘Revolting Rhymes’ to over 80 broadcasters worldwide. It runs an international merchandising programme with over 40 licensees and 300 products. The company’s filmmaking includes feature films such as Oscar-nominated animation Chico & Rita, comedy thriller Wild Target and natural history documentary One Life.
Follow on Twitter @MagicLightPics

About Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are the creators of some of the world’s best-loved children’s books, many of which are considered to be modern classics, from The Gruffalo to Stick Man.

In 1993, Julia and Axel embarked on their acclaimed partnership when a song Julia had written for the BBC – ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ – was turned into a picture book illustrated by Axel. The duo have gone on to become the UK’s number one picture book pair with titles including The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, The Snail and the Whale, Stick Man, Zog and Superworm. Six of Julia and Axel’s books have each sold over one million copies in the UK alone and have been awarded Specsavers Platinum Bestseller Awards. Julia and Axel’s most recent book, The Ugly Five, is a number one bestseller (Sept 2017).

Magic Light Pictures has made award-winning animated films of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom and Stick Man. In 2017, The Highway Rat will be on television at Christmas time. Many of Julia and Axel’s picture books have also been turned into successful stage shows.

Both Julia and Axel enjoy international renown for their work. Julia was the UK Children’s Laureate 2011-13 and honoured with an MBE for services to Literature. Axel’s artwork is exhibited internationally; he has illustrated for many charities, and designed the Royal Mail Christmas stamps in 2012.

Julia Donaldson divides her time between Scotland and West Sussex where she lives with her husband. Axel is from Hamburg, and has lived in the UK since 1984. He lives in London with his family but travels extensively. For more information visit and and

About Scholastic

The Highway Rat was published in 2011 by Alison Green Books, an imprint of Scholastic and is a firm favourite among the Donaldson/Scheffler portfolio.

Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, a leading provider of print and digital instructional materials for pre-K to grade 12, and a producer of educational and entertaining children’s media. The Company creates quality books and ebooks, print and technology-based learning programs, classroom magazines and other products that, in combination, offer schools customized solutions to support children’s learning both at school and at home. The Company also makes quality, affordable books available to all children through school-based book clubs and book fairs. With a 96 year history of service to schools and families, Scholastic continues to carry out its commitment to “Open a World of Possible” for all children. Learn more at

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