The BBC has unveiled an exclusive preview of the upcoming Christmas animated adventure, Tabby McTat. Set on the bustling streets of London, the tale revolves around the heartwarming friendship between a musical feline and a skilled busker named Fred.

This film, destined for both BBC One and BBC iPlayer, is an adaptation of the immensely popular picture book penned by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. It marks the 11th animated special from their collaboration, brought to life by Magic Light Pictures for the BBC.

Jodie Whittaker, the narrator for this year’s rendition, reflects on the personal significance of her involvement. She shares how the story resonates with her own childhood experiences, especially considering her love for feline companions.

Jodie says: “Tabby McTat is such a beautiful story about embracing change and the transitions in life as well – from childhood to adulthood and people going on journeys. There is so much warmth and celebration of family and community, but then there’s also, the moments of fear and loss that is often a gain.”

“We had cats when we were growing up. My cat gave birth under my bed, and it was magical. But then as a child you realise your parents don’t let you keep them all. ‘What? I thought we were going to have five kittens forever,’ but I was lucky, and I did get to keep one of them. Its name was phenomenal – Wicket W. Warrick – named after an Ewok, and it had an older brother called Teebo, another Ewok! And my cat was beautiful, very beautiful with long brown hair and looked like an Ewok and with a personality very similar to mine – needy and a bit feral!”

Julia Donaldson says: “The story is very special to me because as well as having been a busker myself, I’m also a great cat lover. At the time I wrote it we had cats, but they were very old and alas, are no more. But now we have two Tabby cats and they’re called Tabitha and McTat.”

Tabby McTat boasts a stellar cast, including Rob Brydon (known for Gavin and Stacey) as Fred, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísú (from Gangs of London) as Tabby, Cariad Lloyd (a Peep Show alumna) as Prunella, Joanna Scanlan (of The Thick of It fame) as Pat, Jodie Whittaker (best known as Doctor Who) as the narrator, and Susan Wokoma (featured in Enola Holmes) as Sock. Animation services are provided by Red Star Studio.

The direction of Tabby McTat is in the capable hands of Sarah Scrimgeour (previously worked on Superworm) and Jac Hamman (also credited for Superworm). The screenplay is crafted by Max Lang and Suzanne Lang, with production overseen by Barney Goodland and Michael Rose of Magic Light Pictures. The film was acquired by Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer, and Nawfal Faizullah, BBC Drama Commissioning Editor.