TV review: The Highway Rat, BBC One
- Henry Northmore
- 11 December 2017
Animated adaptation of Julia Donaldson's tale about a naughty thieving rat
Scottish writer Julia Donaldson's creations have delighted children for decades. The Gruffalo is a modern kid's classic, and since 2009 the BBC have been bringing to life her colourful stories in a series of cute cartoons for Christmas.
After the Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Stick Man, it's The Highway Rat's turn to get an animated adaptation. A naughty rodent poses as an old-fashioned masked bandit, stealing, cheating and growing fat on his ill-gotten gains. However, he gets his comeuppance and learns the error of his ways thanks to a very clever and resourceful duck.
You can tell The Highway Rat is made with love by Magic Light Pictures. The vocal talent is exceptional, with Rob Brydon narrating, David Tennent as the eponymous rat, and Nina Sosanya as the Duck, even bit parts are filled by actors of the stature of Tom Hollander and Frances de le Tour. The animation is big and chunky bringing Axel Scheffler's illustrations to vivid primary coloured life.
Of course, The Highway Rat is aimed at youngsters and while it suggests it might head into darker territory a couple of times it always keeps things light and is a firmly family-friendly treat with a few important life lessons about greed and theft built in. In many ways a mini streamlined Scrooge story retold with adorable little animals.
Is it worth watching even if you don't have children? Probably not, but if you've got kids this is the perfect cute and cosy addition to the Christmas TV schedules.
The Highway Rat, BBC One, Christmas Day, time tbc.