BBC One has its sights set on Mimi and the Mountain Dragon for this year’s Christmas family treat.
The channel’s adaptations of popular kids books have become something of an annual tradition during the festive period, with precious gems including half-hour shorts based on Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalox Stick Man and more.
This winter, Sir Michael Morpurgo’s children’s book Mimi And The Mountain Dragon will have its television premiere, as part of a wider literature focus on the BBC in 2019-20.
Based on original illustrations by Emily Gravett and adapted for the screen by novelist, poet, and playwright, Owen Sheers, Mimi and the Mountain Dragon is a story about a village that quakes in fear of the mighty Mountain Dragon. One winter, a shy little girl called Mimi finds a tiny baby dragon asleep in her family woodshed. Mimi takes the perilous journey through blizzard and darkness to return the baby dragon to her mother who all the villagers fear.
With an introduction from the award winning writer himself, it will be narrated through classical music in an original score written by Oscar award-winning composer Rachel Portman (The Little Prince). It will be performed by the BBC Philharmonic featuring singers from the Hallé’s family of choirs and will be recorded at Media City UK, Salford.
The newly animated film from Leopard Pictures and Factory started life when Jan Younghusband, Head of Commissioning for BBC Music TV, approached Sir Michel Morpurgo and asked him if he would write a children’s story that could be set to classical music for BBC television. Inspired by a trip to a village in Switzerland some years before, Michael Morpurgo wrote Mimi And The Mountain Dragon which was also released as a children’s book.
The programme is commissioned by Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning, Jan Younghusband, for Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content. The project is also supported by Alice Webb, Director, BBC Children’s & Education, and is executive produced by Leopard Chief Creative Officer, Kristian Smith and Phil Chalk for Bafta-winning studio Factory.
Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content, says: “We’re delighted to be bringing this enchanting mix of music and storytelling to BBC One this Christmas. Sir Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful book will be perfectly complemented by the music of Rachel Portman, The BBC Philharmonic and singers from the Hallé’s family of choirs – a real festive treat for all the family.”
Morpurgo adds: “Many years ago, in the Engadine Valley in Switzerland, I saw village children in red hats, cracking whips, ringing cowbells, banging drums, creating a great cacophony of noise, as they paraded up through the village. I asked why this was happening. They are driving away wicked spirits, I was told. So began my story of Mimi And The Mountain Dragon.
“And now, extraordinarily, wonderfully, this little story is being made into an animated film, by Leopard Pictures and Factory Create. And what a team BBC Music have put together. There is music by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman, a script by Owen Sheers, the great Welsh poet (so he knows a thing or two about dragons!) and with magical drawings from the supremely talented Emily Gravett. I can’t wait to see it!”