Heads Up: The Borrowers

Something borrowed, something new...

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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about?

A proper bit of Christmas telly from the BBC: a new adaptation of The Borrowers, Mary Norton's much-loved children's book about tiny people who live under the floorboards.

Elevator pitch

Borrowing for a new generation: the big stars turn little people.

Prime movers

It's written by Ben Vanstone (Merlin) and directed by Tom Harper (Misfits, This is England '86).

The stars

Just who you'd expect to see on the Beeb at Christmastime: there are villainous turns from Stephen Fry as a scientist keen to capture the Borrowers and Victoria Wood as a grumpy grandma determined to get rid of "the little people". Christopher Eccleston and Sharon Horgan (Pulling) play the diminutive Pod and Homily Clock, while Aisling Loftus (Dive, Page Eight) is their daughter Arrietty, and Robert Sheehan (previously of Misfits, and recently starring on stage in The Playboy of the Western World) plays a cheeky young would-be suitor.

The early buzz

Website The Arts Desk has deemed it a seasonal goodie, describing it as "a zinging new 90-minute version of the Mary Norton books". The Guardian seems excited too: "For more than 50 years Pod, Homily and Arrietty Clock have delighted "human beans" of all ages with their small-scale adventures under the floorboards – and this Christmas they look to enchant a new audience, as The Borrowers return to television."

Insider knowledge

The action is updated to the present day; Vanstone promises that it takes "quite a different trajectory" to the original story, "very much bringing it up to date".

It's great that...

If it's a success, you may get to see a little more of the little people: there's already been talk of expanding it into a series.

It's a shame that...

It's one of those books with quite dedicated fans – and then there's the 1992 BBC Sunday-teatime series and the 1997 film version to compete with in older viewers' memories, not to mention Studio Ghibli's animated version, Arrietty, which was released only this year. Do we really need more Borrowers, and can this lot live up to their predecessors?

Hit potential

All those national treasures should capture the nation's mood... Well, what else are you going to do on Boxing Day?

The details

The Borrowers will be on BBC1, Boxing Day.