Arts & Lifestyle Charming children’s tale brought to life by Cape Town animation studio

Charming children’s tale brought to life by Cape Town animation studio

A children's story entitled ‘The Snail and the Whale’ boasts animation from a South African studio

A Cape Town animation company has collaborated with international partners to bring a poignant children’s story to life on the small screen. 

Animated in the Mother City by Triggerfish for producers Magic Light Pictures, The Snail and the Whale is the story of a tiny snail with an itchy foot, who travels the world on the tail of a humpback whale. 

It’s a tale of shimmering ice and coral caves, of shooting stars and enormous waves, and of how the snail, so small and frail, saves the life of the whale.

The Snail and the Whale premiered on BBC One at Christmas to more than 7.5-million viewers. 

The 26-minute animated film is based on a bestselling 2003 picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, and was co-directed by South African Daniel Snaddon. 

RadioTimes called the film “visually spectacular… a lovely treat to watch as a family”.

Snaddon’s co-director was two-time Oscar nominee Max Lang (The Gruffalo, Room On The Broom). This is their second collaboration, after Zog, which has won several international awards.

“For anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed, like the world is too big for you to make a difference, The Snail and the Whale is an encouragement that even though you feel small – and may even be small – what you do still matters.”


The Snail and the Whale is voiced by two-time Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (Paddington, The Shape Of Water) as Snail, Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey, and every Julia Donaldson adaptation) as Whale, Cariad Lloyd (Peep Show) as Teacher and Dame Diana Rigg (Lady Tyrell in Game of Thrones) as narrator.

Brydon says: “The Snail and the Whale is a longstanding favourite in our house. It’s an epic journey across the globe, where the tiniest creature and the mightiest mammal experience the vastness of our planet together.”

Hawkins adds:

“Both characters go on such a heart-warming, emotional and ultimately life-changing journey together. I hope this animation will inspire family audiences everywhere in helping to take care of our beautiful earth and its creatures for future generations and beyond.”

The Snail and the Whale is the fifth BBC Christmas adaptation from Magic Light and Triggerfish, following the multi-award-winning Donaldson-Scheffler adaptations Stick Man (2015), The Highway Rat (2017) and Zog (2019), as well as the Oscar-nominated Roald Dahl adaptation Revolting Rhymes (2016).

Before teaming up with Triggerfish, Magic Light also made three previous Donaldson-Scheffler adaptations: the Oscar-nominated The Gruffalo (2009), Bafta and Emmy winner Room On The Broom (2012), and Annecy winner The Gruffalo’s Child (2011).

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