There are two adaptations of classic kids' picture books coming to TV this Christmas - and parents will love them too

You'll want to set a reminder for these two festive picture book adaptations

mum and dad watching TV with two children at Christmas
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Two adaptations of classic kids' picture books are coming to TV this Christmas and they're not just for children, as parents won't want to miss reliving these heartwarming specials.

If you're looking for quick ideas for things to do with the kids over Christmas when they've finished unwrapping the top Christmas toys, and are tired of playing the best Christmas games for families then you'll want to add a TV reminder for not one but two TV debuts as part of the Christmas TV schedule.

Mog's Christmas, a special animated adaptation of Judith Kerr’s much-loved classic children’s book of the same name is coming to Channel 4 and the BBC is set to release a star-studded animation based on Tabby McTat book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Schiffer.

Tabby McTat, is a story about the warm and wonderful friendship between a musical cat and a talented busker called Fred and is set on the streets of London. Jodie Whittaker is the narrator of this year's adaptation which makes it the 11th animated special, and the story holds a special place in her heart as she has owned cats ever since she was little.

Speaking about the special, Jodie said, "Tabby McTat is such a beautiful story about embracing change and the transitions in life as well - from childhood to adulthood and people going on journeys. There is so much warmth and celebration of family and community, but then there's also, the moments of fear and loss that is often a gain.”

“We had cats when we were growing up. My cat gave birth under my bed, and it was magical. But then as a child you realise your parents don't let you keep them all. ‘What? I thought we were going to have five kittens forever,’ but I was lucky, and I did get to keep one of them. Its name was phenomenal - Wicket W. Warrick - named after an Ewok, and it had an older brother called Teebo, another Ewok! And my cat was beautiful, very beautiful with long brown hair and looked like an Ewok and with a personality very similar to mine - needy and a bit feral!”

Tabby McTat cat and busker Fred

(Image credit: BBC)

Tabby McTat also stars Rob Brydon (Gavin and Stacey) as Fred, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísú (Gangs of London) as Tabby, Cariad Lloyd (Peep Show) as Prunella, Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It) as Pat, and Susan Wokoma (Enola Holmes) as Sock.

It was first published in 2009 and author Julia Donaldson added, “The story is very special to me because as well as having been a busker myself, I'm also a great cat lover. At the time I wrote it we had cats, but they were very old and alas, are no more. But now we have two Tabby cats and they're called Tabitha and McTat.”

Meanwhile, a Children's classic that will appeal to three generations of your family is Mog's Christmas, as it dates back much further to 1976 and Mog even appeared as early as 1970 in Mog the Forgetful Cat.

In Mog’s Christmas, Mr and Mrs Thomas and their children Debbie and Nicky are busy making preparations for Christmas. With two Aunts and a jolly Uncle also staying in the house, Mog is feeling ignored and confused. Looking for peace, Mog steps outside to enjoy the winter sun. This, however, is soon disturbed by the Thomas family's neighbour Mrs Gaynor, whose baby demands cuddles from a reluctant Mog.

When Mr Thomas and the two children arrive home with an enormous Christmas tree it is all too much. Taking fright Mog scrambles onto the roof and refuses to budge. After the family has gone back inside, snowflakes begin to fall and soon the house and garden are covered with snow. Later, an excited Debbie and Nicky run outside and draw a giant Mog face in the snow in an attempt to convince her to come down. Mr and Mrs Thomas also come to the rescue, but since Mog can’t remember how she got onto the roof, she now doesn’t know what to do and stays put.

After the family has gone to bed, Mog drifts off to sleep on the snowy roof. Despite everyone’s fears, Mog has a magical night with a cat-themed musical Christmas dream, but will Mog arrive back home in time for Christmas Day?

Mog's Christmas

Mog's Christmas (TV still)

(Image credit: Channel 4)

A sparkling voice cast led by narrator Adjoa Andoh brings Mog’s family and neighbours to life. Claire Foy plays Mrs Thomas, Benedict Cumberbatch is Mr Thomas, Miriam Margolyes and Maggie Steed play the Aunts, Zawe Ashton, is one of Mog’s neighbours, Mrs Gaynor, Charlie Higson plays the Jolly Uncle, comedian Gareth Berliner is the Chestnut Seller and newcomers Amelie Law and Teddy Skelton play children Debbie and Nicky. 

Meanwhile, Mog’s purrs and miaows will be provided by Tacy Kneale, Judith Kerr’s daughter. The theme song As Long as I Belong is composed by David Arnold with lyrics by Don Black and performed by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

You can watch the official trailer below...

Sophie, who is mum of five to Sonny, 18, Kit, 14, Ray, 10, Jesse, seven, and Mickey, four, said, "It's just getting the opportunity to be part of Mog’s world. Family stuff is what you go home to, so when I told my kids that I’d been asked to sing Mog’s song, they couldn't really believe it. It feels very special, actually. Hopefully, I've given a little bit of her story in how I’ve interpreted the song. I was lucky enough to meet Judith Kerr once with my eldest and my second boy. She was at this party and it was really sweet because Kit, who was 18 months but is now 14, didn't know who she was. He’d never hugged anybody out the blue before, but he just ambled over and gave her a hug, so I feel like I've got a teeny tiny connection that way as well."

And fans are impressed with the animations.

One fan wrote, "Awwww this is so cute! It looks like the original books came to life! Hats off to the animators"

Another fan put, "Easily the most interesting thing out of anything announced for Christmas TV so far. Then again, I am unusually interested in these little animated Christmas one-offs Channel 4 commission sometimes but gosh, certainly more excited seeing what they're doing with this! Seems funny, cute and delightful, very stoked."

And a third fan added, "This is the type of stuff i wish C4 did more these days, reminds me of 80s Channel 4 when they were at their peak."

Mog’s Christmas will air on Christmas Eve at 7.45pm on Channel 4 and Tabby McTat will air on BBC One and iPlayer on Christmas Day at 2.35pm.

In other Entertainment news, you might like to watch Mary Berry's Highland Christmas, or you might be wondering what is My Life with the Walter Boys based on? as we look at the origins of the Netflix drama.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)