Sir Michael Morpurgo’s Mimi And The Mountain Dragon to be ‘BBC One festive treat’

We’re delighted to be bringing this enchanting mix of music and storytelling to BBC One this Christmas.Charlotte Moore
Date: 18.08.2019     Last updated: 18.08.2019 at 09.00
Airing this winter on BBC One, a special 2D animated adaptation of Sir Michael Morpurgo’s children’s book Mimi And The Mountain Dragon is to have its television premiere this festive period as part of a wider literature focus on the BBC in 2019-20.

The (1x25’) story on BBC One will have an introduction from the award winning writer himself, Sir Michael Morpurgo (War Horse), and will be narrated through classical music in an original score written by Oscar award-winning composer, Rachel Portman (The Little Prince). It will be performed by the BBC Philharmonic featuring singers from the Hallé’s family of choirs and will be recorded at Media City UK, Salford.

Based on original illustrations by Emily Gravett and adapted for the screen by novelist, poet, and playwright, Owen Sheers, Mimi and the Mountain Dragon is a story about a village that quakes in fear of the mighty Mountain Dragon. One winter, a shy little girl called Mimi finds a tiny baby dragon asleep in her family woodshed. Mimi takes the perilous journey through blizzard and darkness to return the baby dragon to her mother who all the villagers fear.

The newly animated film from Leopard Pictures and Factory started life when Jan Younghusband, Head of Commissioning for BBC Music TV, approached Sir Michel Morpurgo and asked him if he would write a children’s story that could be set to classical music for BBC television. Inspired by a trip to a village in Switzerland some years before, Michael Morpurgo wrote Mimi And The Mountain Dragon which was also released as a children’s book.

The programme is commissioned by Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning, Jan Younghusband, for Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content. The project is also supported by Alice Webb, Director, BBC Children’s & Education, and is executive produced by Leopard Chief Creative Officer, Kristian Smith and Phil Chalk for Bafta-winning studio Factory.

Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content, says: “We’re delighted to be bringing this enchanting mix of music and storytelling to BBC One this Christmas. Sir Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful book will be perfectly complemented by the music of Rachel Portman, The BBC Philharmonic and singers from the Hallé’s family of choirs - a real festive treat for all the family.”

Sir Michael Morpurgo says: “Many years ago, in the Engadine Valley in Switzerland, I saw village children in red hats, cracking whips, ringing cowbells, banging drums, creating a great cacophony of noise, as they paraded up through the village. I asked why this was happening. They are driving away wicked spirits, I was told. So began my story of Mimi And The Mountain Dragon.

"And now, extraordinarily, wonderfully, this little story is being made into an animated film, by Leopard Pictures and Factory Create. And what a team BBC Music have put together. There is music by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman, a script by Owen Sheers, the great Welsh poet (so he knows a thing or two about dragons!) and with magical drawings from the supremely talented Emily Gravett. I can’t wait to see it!”

Jan Younghusband, Head of BBC Music Commissioning for Television, says: “At the BBC we have a proud heritage of finding new ways to introduce children to classical music, stretching right back to Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra, The BBC’s Ten Pieces project and now Mimi And The Mountain Dragon.

"It is an honour to work with Sir Michael Morpurgo, Rachel Portman, Owen Sheers, Emily Gravett, Leopard, Factory, The BBC Philharmonic and Hallé’s family of choirs to bring classical music to audiences everywhere with this film.”

Kristian Smith Chief Creative Officer Leopard Pictures, says: “Mimi And The Mountain Dragon is truly born of love. With countless awards and prizes each, author Sir Michael Morpurgo, composer Rachel Portman, writer Owen Sheers and illustrator Emily Gravett have united their exceptional and exquisite talents to create a timeless, magical story. How lucky am I to get to hang on their coat tails?
We had the great privilege of partnering with a company I deeply admire in Factory, who are bringing the animation to life. This is a beautiful film, all set to Rachel’s phenomenal original music.”

Phil Chalk, Managing Director of Factory, says: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Leopard Pictures and the BBC in making this magical 2D animated special of Mimi And The Mountain Dragon. It’s such a wonderful story by Sir Michael Morpurgo, which we can’t wait to bring to life!”

AH