The Wind in the Willows – showing on Monday 1 January, 6.20pm on BBC One
Bob Hoskins and Matt Lucas head an all-star cast in a lavish adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's children's classic The Wind in the Willows – served up as the perfect festive treat on BBC One.
Adapted from the much loved book by Lee Hall, writer of the Oscar nominated and multi-award winning film Billy Elliot, the film also stars Mark Gatiss, Lee Ingleby, Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter and Anna Maxwell Martin.
The feature-length drama from independent Box TV sees the actors subtly transformed into some of the best-known animal characters from literature in a new and original way.
Bob Hoskins (Mrs Henderson Presents, The Long Good Friday) stars as Badger, with Matt Lucas (Little Britain, Casanova) as Toad, Mark Gatiss (The League Of Gentlemen, Nighty Night) as Rat and Lee Ingleby (The Street, Nature Boy) as Mole.
They are joined by Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, Nanny McPhee) as the Barge Lady, Jim Carter (The Way We Live Now, Brassed Off) as the Engine Driver and Bafta award-winner Anna Maxwell Martin (Bleak House) as the Gaoler's daughter.
Iconic locations such as the Riverbank, the Wild Wood, Toad Hall and the Open Road are brought vividly to life as the shy Mole is introduced to the countryside outside his hole, encountering industrious Ratty, gruff Badger and the irrepressible Mr Toad.
Filmed in Bucharest, The Wind in the Willows is produced by Box TV, the company set up by former Channel 4 and Granada Television drama head Gub Neal, whose credits include Sweeney Todd, Gunpowder Treason And Plot and Jimmy McGovern's award-winning film Sunday.
Says Gub Neal: "I have a long standing fascination with the story of The Wind in the Willows and believe our version is a first for television in terms of scale and ambition.
"Lee Hall's translation is utterly faithful to Kenneth Grahame's book and the glorious locations outside Bucharest are perfectly suited to achieving the unspoilt rural world described in the original text.
"Rather than using heavy prosthetics, I think it is both appropriate and natural to play the characters as largely human.
"Costumes and make-up effect subtle transformations, but these are intended to inspire the audience's imagination into seeing how close the performances are to the characters' animal personae.
"We are delighted to attract such a high calibre cast to the drama and believe they inhabit their characters perfectly."
Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction, adds: "The Wind in the Willows is one of the favourite children's books of all time and this new adaptation fits perfectly within BBC One's remit to produce high quality, popular drama for a wide audience.
"Lee Hall has delivered a charming, evocative and memorable script and we expect his writing, combined with the cream of British acting talent and stunning production values, to be a big draw with viewers."
The Wind in the Willows is a UK/Canada/Romania co-production between Box TV, Muse Entertainment and MediaPro Pictures for the BBC.
It has also been produced in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and NBDtv (who are distributing the film outside Canada).
The director is Rachel Talalay (Band of Gold, The Borrowers, Ally McBeal) and the executive producers are Justin Thomson-Glover and Patrick Irwin.
The executive in BBC Drama commissioning is Polly Hill, and the executive in charge of production and drama at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is Robin Neinstein.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame was first published in 1908, becoming a milestone in children's literature, read and loved for generations.