Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Worm this winter: A slug’s life in delightful Julia Donaldson animation

© SYSTEMSuperworm
Superworm

Festive traditions need to be updated from time to time, otherwise we’d be stuck with the same old turkey, party hats and carols written in the 19th Century to get us through the season of goodwill.

Luckily, an annual TV favourite has arrived over the past few years. First we had The Gruffalo in 2009, then The Gruffalo’s Child two years later, followed by Room On The Broom in 2012.

Then there was Stick Man, The Highway Rat, Zog, The Snail On The Whale and Zog And The Flying Doctors.

Julia Donaldson’s much-loved children’s books have become as much part of the Christmas TV line-up as as the annual rammy on Albert Square, although for the 73-year-old author it’s not something she planned.

“I suppose it has become quite the tradition, really,” she says.

“I’m sure there are plenty of people who still watch The Snowman every year – not all my stories are very Christmassy but, touch wood, up until now they have always been shown on Christmas Day.

“We always watch the animation, but it’s a bit mind-blowing to think that there are all these millions of people in the UK watching at Christmastime too.”

Donaldson’s books are adored by children, and her own grandchildren are among that audience.

“For a long time I thought I’d love to do a book about insects and bugs and garden creatures, but I couldn’t really think of a hook to hang it on,” she explains.

“But then, separately from that, I thought I’d never done a superhero book – probably at the stage that one of my grandchildren was really into Batman and Superman and Spider-Man themselves. So then I just put the two things together: my superhero would be this worm.”

Having a granny who’s one of the most lauded authors in the UK must be a source of joy but for Donaldson’s grandchildren they might just be a bit young to appreciate quite how talented she is.

“I have nine grandchildren and they’re all under 11!” she added. “I think it’s when they go to school that they start feeling a sense of – I hope – pride. Obviously when they’re very little, they just (think) ‘Granny writes these books’.”

Superworm tells the story of a long, strong worm (voiced by Matt Smith) with amazing skills and a big heart who keeps on saving the day. But what happens when he gets too full of himself?

For Oscar winner Olivia Colman, taking on the role of narrator was almost as easy a choice as, well, actually doing the performance.

“The voice acting is the last bit of the jigsaw – these incredibly talented artists have been working away for two years on these exquisite drawings,” she says.

“The actor comes in at the end and just tries to do their beautiful work justice. And the narrator’s actually the easiest bit!” For Colman, Donaldson’s books have been a family mainstay for her three children.

“I was excited to play the narrator because I love all the Julia Donaldson books,” she adds.

“I’ve read them to my children over the years and I love watching them at Christmas time when they’re on the telly.

“The films are just lovely and they come out at the time of year when you can all be cosy and at home and watching something together.”


Superworm, BBC1, Christmas Day, 2.30pm