Roald and Beatrix - Tail of the Curious Mouse: Sky One’s enchanting special with Dawn French is a Christmas must-watch

Dawn French, Rob Brydon, Jessica Hynes and Bill Bailey star in this enchanting and heart-warming story inspired by the true events of Roald Dahl meeting's with Beatrix Potter.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 15 December 2020 - 9.50am
Dawn French and Harry Tayler as Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl

Watch Roald and Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse on Sky One with NOW

Full of magic, Christmas cheer and an all-star cast, Roald and Beatrix: Tail of the Curious Mouse is the perfect film for all the family over the holidays.

The story centres on a meeting between Beatrix Potter (Dawn French) and a young Roald Dahl (Harry Tayler), which comes at a pivotal moment in both their lives.

Potter is struggling with her writing and is losing her eyesight, while Roald has recently lost a sister and father and is taking solace in books.

With live animals, animation and Alison Steadman, Rob Brydon, Nina Sosanya and Bill Bailey among the impressive ensemble, it’s a snow-filled festive treat which carries a powerful message about following your dreams.

Here are three reasons you’ll love Roald and Beatrix this Christmas...

1. The stunning cast

“Apart from the wonderful script, what I loved about this job was the chance to work with people that I really admire,” explains Dawn French.

“I didn’t get a scene with Bill Bailey, or Jessica [Hynes], or Alison [Steadman], and I was sorry not to get scenes with those people, but to be sharing the same kind of ‘showbiz air’ with them was really good.

“Jessica and I have been friends for a long time so it was a joy to have her around although I didn’t get any scenes with her. When people like Jessica and Alison are cast in something you think, ‘Whatever happens, they will turn in something magnificent’, and they just did. They don’t do anything less than 100 per cent. They care, and they have a light about them.”

Young Harry Tayler was similarly dazzled by his co-stars.

“Jess was so nice and lovely, I really liked working with her,” said the young actor.

“Dawn was really funny. She’d make me laugh a lot. One time she jumped out at me and scared me! She’s not scary like Beatrix in real life, though.

“Bill was really funny as well. He dropped some nuts and said it was a ‘nuts-ami’ like a tsunami and that made me laugh.”

2. It’s a story for every generation

That rarest of Christmas shows, Roald and Beatrix will be adored by viewers aged from 8 to 88.

“It’s charming, it’s witty, it’s moving. It’s going to look beautiful,” said Rob Brydon, who plays William Heelis, Beatrix Potter’s husband.

“I was having a little look at the monitors in between scenes so that I could see the set-ups inside Beatrix’s house at Christmas and I could see it would be rather lovely.

“I think it’s a feast for the eyes. When you add in the animation, which people perhaps won’t be expecting, like the scene where the mice come alive inside the doll’s house in Roald’s bedroom. It’s made by Hartswood who are really as good as it gets.

"When I arrived on set at the location for Beatrix’s farmhouse, they’d transformed it into a Christmas scene and it was absolutely enchanting.

“It was in the countryside in the Vale of Glamorgan which is a lovely area anyway. They’d turned this house into this most idyllic Christmas scene. It was just gorgeous.”

Exec producer Elaine Cameron said: “I think kids will watch it in one way and adults will watch it in another way, which is slightly more devastating but still magical.

“I think it feels like quite a treat because it ties in with the fantasy elements: the animation, and the various characters that Roald meets on his journey that are a subtle nod to some of the creations he then goes on to write.”

3. An inspirational Christmas message

For all its snazzy special effects, beautiful filming locations and dazzling cast, the real magic of Roald and Dahl comes from its central message about the power of imagination.

“I think the story presents a hugely uplifting message about personal bravery and how important it is to equip young children with emotional resilience and understanding,” said Elaine Cameron.

“There’s a brilliant line in the narration for our animated mouse (read by the sublime John Hannah) and it reduces me to tears every time I hear it. For me – it really encapsulates everything Abi is saying in her story:

Keep in your mind there’ll be troubling times

And days you’re not covered in glory

Then take my advice, learn a lesson from mice:

Don’t let the tragic kill all the magic

Write your own story

“That’s all you can ask really isn’t it – that your children get the chance to write their own story…

And that, I think, absolutely encapsulates the message of the film. There are lots of jokes in the film and we want it to be a feel-good, uplifting piece, even though, you know, fundamentally, it’s a story about grief.

“The combination of the two allows you to lean into the tragedy of it, because we know that the next scene will feel quite uplifting. The thing that really connected these two characters is that they had this wonder in the world.”

Watch Roald and Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse on Sky One with the NOW Entertainment Membership.