Triggerfish to animate Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book

Triggerfish Animation Studios is animating an adaptation of The Highway Rat, a 2011 children’s book by the UK’s number one picture book author/illustrator team, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Set to premiere on BBC One for Christmas 2017, the half-hour animated special is the tale of a greedy rat who tyrannises animals along the highway, as he steals their food at every opportunity: clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, and a leaf from some ants. He even steals his own horse’s hay. However, what he really craves are cakes and all things sugary, and it’s his sweet tooth that finally leads him to a sticky outcome.

The Highway Rat is being produced by Michael Rose and Martin Pope of Magic Light Pictures, the Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning production and brand building company.

This will be Triggerfish’s third BBC One Christmas collaboration with Magic Light Pictures in three years, building on the success of last year’s Donaldson/Scheffler adaptation, Stick Man, and this year’s eagerly-anticipated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes.

On BBC One last Christmas, 9.3m viewers watched Stick Man, which had an overall 41% audience share and was the fourth highest rated programme of the day. Stick Man became 2015’s number one bestselling backlist picture book and fourth bestselling picture book overall, while the animated adaptation won critical praise and a raft of global industry awards, including:

• the Cristal for a TV Production at the Annecy Animation Festival, France
• the Magnolia Award for Best Animation at the Shanghai TV Festival, China
• Rockie Award for Animation at the Banff Word Media Festival, Canada
• Audience Choice Award & Best Animated Film at the Singapore International Children’s Film Festival
• Best Voice Performance for Martin Freeman, British Animation Awards

Stick Man director Jeroen Jaspaert will again helm The Highway Rat, which marks the fifth adaptation by Magic Light Pictures of a Donaldson/Scheffler children’s book, after Oscar-nominees The Gruffalo and Room On The Broom, and Annecy winners The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man.

Michael Rose, co-founder, Magic Light Pictures, says: “We’re delighted to be working with Triggerfish again on our next Donaldson/Scheffler title for BBC One, a swashbuckling tale of bandits and biscuits for all the family to enjoy. Triggerfish produce work of the highest quality and we’ve had a great experience with them on both Stick Man andRevolting Rhymes.”