Top Julia Donaldson adaptations to stream on BBC iPlayer: The Gruffalo to Superworm

Ahead of the release of The Smeds and The Smoos this Christmas, we round up Julia Donaldson’s top TV adaptations - and you can watch them all now on BBC iPlayer.

By Sophia Moir Published: 20 September 2022 - 12.32pm
Getty / BBC Julia Donaldson and The Gruffalo

Julia Donaldson is one of the UK’s bestselling authors, and has written hundreds of books over her 30-year career, many of which have topped the book charts - fan favourite The Gruffalo has sold 13million copies alone. 

So it’s no wonder that the TV adaptations of her books - which are wonderfully illustrated by Axel Scheffler - top the ratings each Christmas, with last year’s Superworm watched by a massive audience of 5.1million viewers, the most-watched children's show of the day.

In fact, nine of Julia Donaldson's much-loved children's picture books have been adapted into short, animated films for the BBC to date.  So, ahead of the release of The Smeds and The Smoos this Christmas, we rank them all here.

Interview: 7 Questions with Julia Donaldson

1. The Gruffalo (2009)

The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson BBC

Voice cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Rob Brydon, Robbie Coltrane, James Corden, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt

IMDB rating: 7.5/10

A cunning mouse goes for a walk through the forest and has to outwit a succession of predators. To scare off his enemies, he invents tales of a fantastical creature called the Gruffalo. So imagine his surprise when he bumps into the real Gruffalo…

2. Room on the Broom (2012)

Julia Donaldson Room on the Broom BBC

Voice cast: Martin Clunes, David Walliams, Rob Brydon, Gillian Anderson, Simon Pegg, Timothy Spall

IMDB rating: 7.5/10

A kind witch invites a surprising collection of animals to join her on her broom, much to the frustration of her cat. The gang saves the witch from a fearsome dragon, and in gratitude, she rewards them with a magnificent new broom which has room for everyone.

3. Zog (2018)

Julia Donaldson Zog BBC

Voice cast: Hugh Skinner, Kit Harington, Lenny Henry, Patsy Ferran, Max Lang, Rob Brydon

IMDB rating: 7.3/10

The story of a keen young dragon who wants to learn how to fly, roar and breathe fire in his first years at Dragon School. He is desperate to impress his teacher and win a golden star, but he is accident-prone and has to be helped by a kind young girl. In year four, he has to capture a princess - can the girl help him with his trickiest challenge yet?

4. The Snail and the Whale (2019)

Snail and the Whale BBC

Voice cast: Diana Rigg, Sally Hawkins, Rob Brydon, Max Lang

IMDB rating: 7.3/10

One tiny snail longs to see the world and hitches a lift on the tail of a whale. Together they go on an amazing journey, past icebergs and volcanoes, sharks and penguins. The little snail feels so small in the vastness of the world and next to her huge travelling companion, but before long she has a chance to show that she can make a difference.

Everything you need to know about The Snail and the Whale

5. Stick Man (2015)

Stick Man BBC

Voice cast: Martin Freeman, Jennifer Saunders, Rob Brydon, Russell Tovey, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville

IMDB rating: 7.1/10

Stick Man lives in the family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their stick children, and he's heading on an epic adventure across the seasons. Will he get back to his family in time for Christmas?

6. The Gruffalo’s Child (2011)

Gruffalo's Child BBC

Voice cast: Robbie Coltrane, James Corden, Helena Bonham Carter, Rob Brydon, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Lewis, Phoebe Givron-Taylor 

IMDB rating: 7.1/10

One wild and windy night, the Gruffalo's child ignores her father's warnings and bravely tiptoes out into the snow in search of the Big Bad Mouse. She meets Snake, Owl and Fox, but there is no sign of the fabled Mouse. He doesn't really exist... or does he?

7. Zog and the Flying Doctors (2020)

Zog and the Flying Doctors BBC

Voice cast: Lenny Henry, Patsy Ferran, Daniel Ings, Hugh Skinner, Alexandra Roach, Mark Bonnar, Lucian Msamati, Rob Brydon

IMDB rating: 6.6/10

Zog, Pearl and Gadabout are now a flying doctor trio, caring for creatures including a mermaid, a unicorn and a sneezy lion. However when bad weather forces them to land at the palace, Pearl is locked up by her uncle, the king.

Everything you need to know about Zog and the Flying Doctors

8. The Highway Rat (2017)

The Highway Rat BBC

Voice cast: David Tennant, Rob Brydon, Frances de la Tour, Tom Hollander, Nina Sosanya

IMDB rating: 6.6/10

The Highway Rat tells the tale of 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.

9. Superworm (2021)

Superworm BBC

Voice cast: Olivia Colman, Matt Smith, Patricia Allison, Rob Brydon

IMDB rating: 6.5/10

Superworm is a long, strong worm with amazing skills and a big heart. When he's not saving the day, he's busy entertaining his insect friends, so when Wizard Lizard captures him and forces him to dig for treasure, they soon come to the rescue.

All you need to know about Superworm

 

You can watch them all now on BBC iPlayer

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Top Julia Donaldson books that have yet to be adapted for TV:

Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

  • A Squash and a Squeeze
  • Monkey Puzzle
  • The Smartest Giant in Town
  • Charlie Cook's Favourite Book
  • Tabby McTat
  • The Scarecrows' Wedding
  • The Ugly Five
  • The Baddies

Illustrated by Lydia Monks

  • What the Ladybird Heard
  • What the Ladybird Heard Next
  • What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday
  • The Singing Mermaid
  • Sugarlump and the Unicorn

Illustrated by David Roberts

  • Tyrannosaurus Drip
  • The Troll
  • Cave Baby

Illustrated by Sebastien Braun

  • Spinderella

Illustrated by Rebecca Cobb

  • The Paper Dolls

Illustrated by Lucy Richards

  • Night Monkey, Day Monkey