Superworm: Olivia Colman 'thrilled' to narrate this year's Julia Donaldson adaptation

The next Julia Donaldson BBC adaptation will feature the tale of the superhero worm and his plucky butterfly pal, and will be voiced by Olivia Colman, Matt Smith and Rob Brydon.

By Becky Gamester-Newton Published: 21 December 2021 - 9.32pm
BBC/Magic Light Pictures Superworm TV still - Matt Smith as Superworm

Superworm is the next Julia Donaldson-Axel Scheffler collaboration to be made into an animated film for Christmas.

The tale of the super-long, super-strong invertebrate who is rescued by his animal friends becomes the ninth adaptation of one of Julia’s best-selling stories which have delighted children and parents both in their original book forms and through the now traditional Christmas retellings.

Find out more about the animation, and which celebrity voices will grace our screens on Christmas Day…

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Who are the voice cast?

BBC/Magic Light Pictures

Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith voices the hero, Superworm, above.

Oscar-winner Olivia Colman headlines the cast as the narrator. Colman said: “I was excited to do the narrator bit because I love all these books.

“I’ve read the Julia Donaldson books to my children over the years and I love watching them when they’re on the telly. I was thrilled that they asked me.”

Rob Brydon – who has featured in all nine Julia Donaldson adaptations so far – will play the villainous Crow while Patricia Allison, best known as Ola in Sex Education, will voice Butterfly.

Mike Marsland/WireImage

Brydon said: “This will be my ninth appearance in a Donaldson/Scheffler adaptation. Working on these Magic Light productions is always a delight and deciding how to voice characters is such fun. I love watching them on TV at Christmas - a lovely way to round off my year.”

Allison, below, said: “The Magic Light animations are such an important part of the Christmas TV schedule, I’m excited to become part of that tradition. Butterfly is a very determined character, and a loyal friend, so I’m looking forward to recording a lot.”


What's the plot of Superworm?

Super-long and super-strong, Superworm is a hero with a difference. He’s always on hand to help out other animals and insects, but often takes more credit than his best friend Butterfly.

Things takes a turn when the evil Wizard Lizard sends Crow to kidnap Superworm, but Butterfly comes to the rescue.

Martin Pope, co-founder of Magic Light Pictures, said: “We’re delighted to be making Superworm for BBC One. It’s a lovely comedy. Superworm’s a brilliant central character, who has great friends who will ultimately triumph over the wonderfully entertaining villain, in this delightful story based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.”

When will it be on TV?

We only know that Superworm will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer over the Christmas 2021 period, but the Julia Donaldson adaptations are usually shown on Christmas Day. Check back on this page for updates!

BBC/Magic Light Pictures

Which other Julia Donaldson-Axel Scheffler books have been adapted for TV?

Superworm will be the ninth adaptation of a children's book written by Donaldson and illustrated by Scheffler to be produced by Magic Light Pictures since The Gruffalo first stomped onto our screens at Christmas 2009.

Four of the half-hour specials have been nominated for Best Animation at the Baftas (Room on the Broom winning), while both The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom were nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars.

In total, Donaldson and Scheffler have published 18 childrens' books together, so their magical creations will continue to grace our screens for a good many Christmases yet.

The full list of Donaldson-Scheffler adaptations, and the year they were first shown, is:

* The Gruffalo (2009)

* The Gruffalo's Child (2011)

* Room on the Broom (2012)

* Stick Man (2015)

* The Highway Rat (2017)

* Zog (2018)

* The Snail and the Whale (2019)

* Zog and the Flying Doctors (2020)

Watch Superworm at 2.30pm on BBC One on Christmas Day, and then on BBC iPlayer.