The Tiger Who Came to Tea: Who is in the cast? Who voices the tiger?

David Oyelowo, David Walliams and Tamsin Greig all jump aboard the Channel 4 Christmas family feature.

By Katie Archer Published: 20 December 2019 - 7.41pm
Channel 4

Family favourites are always one of the highlights of Christmas TV, and Channel 4 has an ace up its sleeve this year with an adaptation of Judith Kerr’s classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea.

As with most kids’ features now, the voice cast is a very starry one, with some big names lining up to add their own touch of sparkle to the magic of the beloved story.

Here’s a guide to whose voice you’ll hear as each of the characters. 

Narrator – David Walliams

Narrating the well-loved tale will be another children’s author – David Walliams, who certainly knows a thing or two about telling a good story.

David explained that the job meant even more to him because he had known Judith Kerr well before her death in May.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea David Walliams Channel 4

He said: “I knew Judith well and I really, really adored her. And she’s just such an incredible inspiration. Her work is so brilliant. And for her to have been in her 90s and still creating fantastic work is virtually unheard of.

“I really wanted to be a part of it. I was chuffed that she wanted me to narrate because she thought that, because I tell stories too, I would understand how to say the lines… I don’t know.

“But I’m so proud to be associated with it because it’s a stone cold classic. Just like the book has been around for over 50 years, hopefully the cartoon will have this incredible longevity, too.”

Mummy – Tamsin Greig

Episodes, Green Wing and Friday Night Dinner star Tamsin Greig voices Mummy in the adaptation, and said that she had read the story over many years to her own children.

She said: “I suppose I’ve had a bit of practice at reading the story but also at being a mummy. What I love about Mummy is that she is so child-like herself and with the drawings, often you don’t quite know who’s the parent and who’s the child, and there’s so much wonder in the Mummy’s face.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea Tamsin Greig Channel 4

“And when they’re standing next to Daddy, they do both look like children, like they’ve both gone on an adventure.

“I suppose that’s what drew me is that the mummy is not there imposing authority but she’s agreeing to go on the journey with her daughter and be a child with her but to be a safe child.”

Daddy – Benedict Cumberbatch

Listen out for the familiar tones of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch voicing Daddy in the TV film.

He said: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be playing a small part in bringing Judith Kerr’s timeless children’s classic to the screen for another generation to enjoy.”

Tiger – David Oyelowo

The tiger’s a tough role to play, as he’s more about noises than words, but the beloved character is in safe hands with Les Miserables’ David Oyelowo.

He said: “Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play the iconic tiger from The Tiger Who Came to Tea? He’s a big cat of few words because - he’s too busy eating! - but I relished all of the growling, chomping and slurping, which called on me to find my inner cat.”

The Tiger Who Came to Tea David Oyelowo Channel 4

Milkman – Paul Whitehouse

There aren’t too many extra characters in the story, but Fast Show star Paul Whitehouse will voice the milkman.

He has had plenty of readings of The Tiger Who Came to Tea over the years, but he admitted not all of them have been popular with his own children.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea Paul Whitehouse Channel 4

Paul said: “The Tiger Who Came to Tea has fond memories for me and a close association with my girls; I’ve read it to all my four girls. It was quite good because still there’s a real bias of books having the protagonist be male. It’s one of the not-that-many books where the girl is the central character.

“I read it to all of them and I didn’t do very many daft voices because whenever I tried to do my stock-in-trade: ‘Hey girls! I’ve won awards for this sort of behaviour,’ they’d always go: ‘Shhh! Don’t do that, don’t do the voice.’ So, I tend to read stuff very straight to my girls.”

Sophie – Clara Ross

At the centre of the story is Sophie, the little girl who welcomes a tiger into her home at teatime.

She’ll be voiced by Clara Ross, who’s enjoying her first TV role and said: “I can’t wait for when it comes out at Christmas on Channel 4 - I’m just really excited that my voice is going to be animated!”

The Tiger Who Came to Tea airs on Channel 4 on Christmas Eve at 7.30pm, and is repeated on Christmas Day at 1.50pm.