Who would have thought that a young Roald Dahl met an elderly(ish) Beatrix Potter – but they did meet, and this is the tail (sorry, tale) of the lead up to that brief, but very significant, meeting. It’s a story with a lot of light and a fair bit of shade; something that neither author ever shied away from in their writing. The settings are beautiful and wintry and the story is, of course, a little bit magical, with a few characters who may have perhaps inspired Roald Dahl in his later stories, including a performance from a certain Strictly Come Dancing 2020 winner! In such a year as 2020, which has had few highs and many lows, it is inspiring to see a mother (Roald Dahl’s mum seems to have been an awesome lady) and young son working through a tough time, but bravely supporting each other, looking to the future, keeping dreams alive and still having fun. Whilst at the other end of the age/fame spectrum, Beatrix also has to decide what is important to her and what direction she wants to take next, even if it doesn’t suit everyone. A lovely Christmas film about coping, even when things haven’t been going your way for a while – I think we can all relate to that!
Click on the link below to download extra background info, a quiz on the movie, discussion questions and activity ideas to get you writing like Roald or Beatrix.
Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse will air on Sky One at 8.15pm on Christmas Eve and will be available on streaming service NOW TV.
Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse is based on the true story of an unlikely meeting between two of Britain’s most beloved children’s authors, one dealing with the pressures of success and aging, the other a child learning to navigate grief and loss in a confusing adult world. When we meet Beatrix Potter she is an established author whose books have made her a household name, but recognition and fame sit awkwardly with her, and she seems happier working on her farm than on the new hit book that her publishers are demanding in time for the lucrative Christmas market. Meanwhile, she stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that her eyesight isn’t all it was, much to the frustration of husband William. Meanwhile, a six-year-old Roald Dahl is reeling from the loss of his sister and father in the same year, and is horrified by the thought of being “sent away” from his fun, loving mother to the boarding school that his late dad was determined he should attend. An avid reader with a vivid imagination, he seeks refuge in the world of stories – especially those of a certain Ms. B Potter. When everything gets too much for Roald, it’s only natural that the fantasy world of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck is where he attempts to flee, striking out for the idyllic farm shown in Beatrix’s illustrations. Roald doesn’t get too far before his mum catches up with him, but she wisely recognises that he needs an adventure more than a telling-off, and the two of them set out together to find Beatrix Potter – or Mrs. Heelis, as she loudly insists that everyone calls her. Meanwhile, having finally succumbed to an eye test, Beatrix looks like losing the battle with her publisher as well, who is demanding that her new book have a happy ending – meaning the Three Blind Mice will make friends with the farmer’s wife, instead of having their tales chopped off by her! Roald and Beatrix’s meeting changes them both, giving them the confidence to move through their sadness and frustration – and it helps set Roald on the path to follow in his idol’s footsteps. It turns out that Beatrix is not quite as fierce as she pretends, and that Roald is braver than he thought. Roald and Beatrix will entertain and amuse, but it also gives families and individuals the chance to reflect – on the power of stories to help us grow, and on the relationships and encounters that help us move through the hardest parts of our life, when we feel deeply sad or irreversibly ‘stuck’. As a uniquely difficult year draws to a close, this charming story might just open a door for you to rediscover some hope of your own.