BBC announces Michael Morpurgo adaptation for Christmas

By Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

A book by Sir Michael Morpurgo is being adapted for the BBC Christmas schedule and just like The Snowman it will be narrated through music.

Mimi And The Mountain Dragon will be introduced by writer Sir Michael himself, but the rest of the story will be told through classical music.

Oscar award-winning composer Rachel Portman, whose credits include Chocolat, Emma and Never Let Me Go, has written the score for the animation.

It will tell the story of “a shy little girl called Mimi” who “finds a tiny baby dragon asleep in her family woodshed.

Author and playwright Sir Michael Morpurgo (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“Mimi takes the perilous journey through blizzard and darkness to return the baby dragon to her mother who all the villagers fear.”

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, said the animation would be an “enchanting mix of music and storytelling” and “a real festive treat for all the family”.

Music will be performed and recorded by BBC Philharmonic, featuring the Halle Choir.

War Horse writer Sir Michael was inspired to write the book, published in 2014, following a trip to a village in Switzerland.

“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,” he said.

“They are driving away wicked spirits, I was told. So began my story of Mimi And The Mountain Dragon.”

The animation will feature original illustrations by Emily Gravett and adapted for TV by Welsh poet Owen Sheers.

Jan Younghusband, head of BBC music commissioning for television, said the BBC had a “proud heritage of finding new ways to introduce children to classical music”.

The TV version of Raymond Briggs’ picture book The Snowman was set to music, and first aired on Channel 4 in 1982.

In recent years, the BBC has enjoyed hits with adaptions of books such as The Highway Rat and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler over Christmas.

The animation is being made by Leopard Pictures and Factory.