First Look: Julia Donaldson’s star-studded Superworm will warm your cockles this Christmas

Starring The Crown’s Matt Smith and Olivia Coleman – this is the perfect family film (although the author admits it nearly wasn’t so family friendly after all!)

Superworm BBC Christmas show

by Lucie Cave |
Published on

You don’t need to be a kid to enjoy the delights of Julia Donaldson’s magical stories – the bestselling author of the Gruffalo, Zog and The Highway Rat, has ruled pretty much every Christmas Day since we can remember with the adaptations of her successful children’s tales for the BBC. And her latest book to take to the big screen is Superworm – boasting a star-studded cast including Olivia Coleman as the narrator and Matt Smith as the ‘slightly vain but very likeable’ superhero of a worm.

The story tells the tale of a strong worm who helps out his fellow bugs and insects until one day he is captured by an evil Wizard lizard and his scary mate the Crow (voiced by Rob Brydon) who try and make him dig for treasure. So its up to his friend the butterfly to lead a rescue mission to save him and save the day.

Superworm BBC Christmas show

Matt Smith says he was drawn to the story immediately, “I think you always warm to stories about friendship and this is a very charming tale of friendship and self-understanding for one small worm. There's a charm, there's a wit, and there's a lightness of touch and hopefulness that fits really well into Christmas Day… I’ve never done an animation, and I read this and I thought it was sweet and interesting and fun”.

Yet, despite being a world-renowned author, Julia Donaldson admitted she didn’t even know who Matt Smith was until she heard him reading the part – “It suddenly dawned on me it was Prince Philp from the Crown playing my worm!”.

Speaking of the origins of the story, Julia also confessed that she initially nearly made an error with the opening line of the book. The printed version begins “Superworm is super long, super worm is super strong” but Julia says that it could have been a very different tale altogether. “The first draft I sent to my publisher was very different” she giggles, “It read ‘Superworm is long and pink, Superworm can grow and shrink!”

Olivia Coleman, who narrates the film, created by the award-winning Magic Light Pictures for the BBC, says “I was excited to play the narrator because I love all the Julia Donaldson books. 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”.

Voice cast include Olivia Colman (Narrator), Matt Smith (Superworm) and Rob Brydon (Crow), Patricia Allison (Butterfly) and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Wizard Lizard).

Superworm will air on BBC One, Christmas Day at 2.30pm and will stream on BBC iPlayer the same day.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us