Stick Man (BBC1, Christmas Day 8.55am) isn’t as famous as Julia Donaldson’s charming picture book, The Gruffalo, which has become a worldwide sensation, but now this lesser-known work is finally getting its own time in the limelight.
One winter’s day Stick Man wanders from his family tree only to find himself constantly mistaken for a run-of-the-mill twig by a variety of interlopers. Eventually he’s whisked away on a magical journey with Father Christmas himself, but can he make it back to his family in time for Christmas?
In partnership with Magic Light Pictures, the BBC is bringing this festive tale to the small screen as an animated feature with the backing of a cracking cast.
Martin Freeman as Stick Man
Stick Man is the titular hero of the tale who lives in a tree with his wife, Stick Lady, and three children. More than anything he wants to spend the holiday with his family, but encounters a veritable menagerie of strangers that assume he’s good for chewing, throwing, or even burning over the fire.
The voice behind the wooden wonder is none other than Martin Freeman, whose rise to fame over recent years has made him a household name. He’s played the kind-hearted Bilbo Baggins in the recent Hobbit film trilogy, and he’s also the face of Dr John Watson in the BBC’s Sherlock. Some may also remember his role as a sex-scene body double in the romantic drama Love Actually.
Hugh Bonneville as Santa
Does the Jolly Red Man really need an introduction? Santa encounters Stick Man whilst plummeting down a chimney, as he tends to do during the festive season, and the two set off on an adventure.
Hugh Bonneville will be lending his deep, expressive tones to Father Christmas. You probably know him better as Robert Crawley in Downton Abbey, but Bonneville’s list of credits extends far beyond the hit ITV series. His performance as a frustrated Olympic organiser in the BBC’s comedy, 2012, is one of a catalogue of brilliant appearances including shows like Doctor Who, and the classic romantic comedy Notting Hill.
Jennifer Saunders as Narrator
Rather unsurprisingly the narrator will be doing very little other than narrating, but the voice behind the tale teller is very exciting indeed. Comedienne, actress, writer, and director Jennifer Saunders will be laying out Stick Man’s plight with her usual wit and warmth.
Jennifer has written and starred in numerous series including sketch show French and Saunders and the ever-inappropriate Absolutely Fabulous. The lady of laughs has even made repeat appearances as Ross’s disgruntled mother-in-law to be in the American sitcom Friends.
Russell Tovey as Dog
It’s not too hard to guess the mode of interaction between Stick Man and Dog. Here’s a hint – look at the picture.
Harder to identify without some assistance might be the person behind the pooch. Actor Russell Tovey initially rose to fame in the supernatural BBC Three series Being Human as a werewolf with a tortured soul, and has since worked on projects on both sides of the Atlantic such as the HBO series, Looking.
Sally Hawkins as Stick Lady and assorted
Sally Hawkins voices Stick Man’s wife (appropriately called Stick Lady) but is also bringing numerous other characters in the animation to life including Pigeon, Swan, and Robin.
From controversial period drama Tipping the Velvet to the recent feelgood film Made in Dagenham, Sally has starred in a wide variety of British cinema and TV. She seems to have a talent for picking cult films that become critical darlings such as the films Blue Jasmine and Welsh-based comedy Submarine.
Rob Brydon as Cat and assorted
Speaking of Wales, veteran actor Rob Brydon will also be assuming numerous roles in Stick Man, including Cat, Snail, Frog, and Park Keeper. Few voices are as soothing to the ear, and you’ll probably recognise Brydon’s dulcet tones from the likes of UK comedy Gavin and Stacey or Marion & Geoff.