Meet the faces behind the voices of Superworm, a half-hour animated film based on the book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

“Superworm is super-long. Superworm is super-strong. Watch him wiggle! See him squirm! Hip, hip, hooray for SUPERWORM!”

Superworm is a wonderfully unlikely comic hero. He’s a long, strong worm with amazing skills and a big heart who keeps on saving the day. But what happens when he gets too full of himself and starts to ignore his friends?

Based on the book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Superworm stars Patricia Allison, Rob Brydon, Olivia Colman, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith and Matt Smith. It’s directed by Jac Hamman and Sarah Scrimgeour and produced by Martin Pope and Barney Goodland with animation services by Blue Zoo.

Superworm and Butterfly have been best friends since he was small and she was a caterpillar. They love helping the other garden animals: they save the baby toad from a major road, they entertain bored bees, rescue a beetle. It seems there’s no end to Superworm’s skills but he begins to get a bit too full of himself and he starts to ignore his friend.

Then word of Superworm’s powers reaches the evil Wizard Lizard. He loves wearing his finest jewels and he’s so greedy he’s always searching for more. He realises Superworm could be a brilliant way to find buried treasure so he sends his henchman, the Crow, to kidnap Superworm.

Superworm is captured and brought back to the lair, where the Wizard uses his magic flower to charm Superworm – who is forced to keep on digging through the earth. Unfortunately he only finds two buttons, half a cork, a toffee and a plastic fork. Wizard Lizard furiously threatens to feed Superworm to the Crow if he doesn’t find the treasure!

 Picture Shows: Superworm is hypnotised by Wizard Lizard’s magic flower.
Superworm (MATT SMITH) – (C) Magic Light Pictures – Photographer: Magic Light Pictures

Meet the Superworm cast

Matt Smith is Superworm

 Superworm looks up, smiling
Superworm (MATT SMITH) – (C) Magic Light Pictures – Photographer: Magic Light Pictures

“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. And Magic Light are really good at producing them, so I thought, why not play Superworm?”

Olivia Colman is the Narrator

“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. So I was thrilled that [Magic Light] asked me.

“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.

[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. The actor comes in at the end and just tries to do their beautiful work justice. And the narrator’s actually the easiest bit!”

Rob Brydon is Crow

“This will be my ninth appearance in a Donaldson/ Scheffler adaptation. Working on these Magic Light productions is always a delight and deciding how to voice characters is such fun. I love watching them on TV at Christmas – a lovely way to round off my year.”

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is Wizard Lizard 

 Wizard Lizard looms menacingly over a frightened Superworm.
Wizard Lizard (KOBNA HOLDBROOK-SMITH), Superworm (MATT SMITH) – (C) Magic Light Pictures – Photographer: Magic Light Pictures

“Playing Wizard Lizard was a lot of fun. He’s a really self-indulgent baddie, which gives me joy, and it offers ample opportunity to be playful with the voice. I look forward to seeing how the characters have been brought to life by Magic Light. Definitely a Christmas treat for me.”

Patricia Allison is Butterfly

“The Magic Light animations are such an important part of the Christmas TV schedule, I’m so excited to be part of that tradition. Butterfly is a very determined character, and a loyal friend, and I’m looking forward to seeing her on BBC One on Christmas Day.”

Cariad Lloyd (multiple voices)

“I absolutely adore working with Magic Light on these Donaldson/Scheffler adaptations, as much as I love watching them on television when they’re finished. They perfectly capture the magic of the story books whilst transporting you even deeper into the magical world that Julia and Axel have created. This year’s adaptation of Superworm is as joyous and funny as ever.”

Meet the creators

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are the UK’s number one picture book pair and no story-time is complete without Julia’s perfect read-aloud rhyme and Axel’s unique artwork.

Their acclaimed partnership began when a song Julia had written for the BBC – ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ – was turned into a book illustrated by Axel. The duo became picture book superstars with titles including The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, Stick Man, The Highway Rat, Zog and The Snail and the Whale – all of which have been made into award-winning animated films by Magic Light Pictures. The most recent film was Zog and the Flying Doctors which premiered on BBC One on Christmas Day 2020.

Julia Donaldson is the author of some of the world’s best-loved children’s books, including the modern classic The Gruffalo, which has sold over 17 million copies worldwide. She also writes fiction, as well as poems, plays and songs – and her brilliant live shows are always in demand. Julia was the UK Children’s Laureate 2011-13, is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and in 2019 was honoured with an CBE for services to Literature. Julia and her husband Malcolm divide their time between West Sussex and Edinburgh.

Axel Scheffler is a star illustrator whose instantly recognizable, warm and witty illustrations have achieved worldwide acclaim and numerous awards including the inaugural Illustrator of the Year Award at the British Book Awards 2018. Axel’s artwork is exhibited internationally. Born in Hamburg, Axel now lives with his family in London.