As any fan of Roald Dahl will tell you Esio Trot is Tortoise spelt backwards. BBC One’s adaptation of the book is the latest work by Dahl to be adapted.
Perhaps his most famous novel is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which has been adapted twice for cinema; 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder and the 2005 film (which retains the books name) which starred Johnny Depp.
The Witches is another famous Dahl book and was made into a film in 1990 starring Anjelica Huston, Rowan Atkinson and Mai Zetterling. Matilda is a hugely popular Dahl book and in 1996 was made into a movie which starred Mara Wilson in the title role with Danny DeVito and Pam Ferris. More recently the book as been turned into a West End Musical.
Also released in 1996 was an adaptation of James and the Giant Peach which was partly animated and featured Joanna Lumley, Miriam Margolyes and the late Pete Postlethwaite along with the vocal talents of Simon Callow. The most recent Dahl story to be adapted for the big-screen was The Fantastic Mr Fox which was released in 2009 and was an animated film; it featured the vocal talents of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon and Helen McCrory.
As well as writing books Dahl was film writer whose credits include the screenplay of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice and the ITV series Tales of the Unexpected.
The commissioning of Esio Trot was announced by new BBC One controller Charlotte Moore at the Edinburgh TV Festival and will comprise of one 90 minute episode.
Exclusively announced today by new BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Dame Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman are to star in Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot for Endor Productions and BBC One. Adapted by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, filming will begin next spring in London.
BAFTA-winner Hilary Bevan Jones will produce, and the 1×90-minute film will be directed by Dearbhla Walsh who won an Emmy for Little Dorrit (2009).
Charlotte Moore, Controller, BBC One, says: “It’s an honour to have Dame Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman starring in this wonderful new adaptation. It’s absolutely stellar casting for one of the nation’s favourite children’s classics.”
Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, says: “An amazing cast and production team have come together to dramatise Roald Dahl’s wonderful, evergreen story. This film is a class act with a roll call of talent that only the BBC could assemble.”
Producer Hilary Bevan Jones says: “To bring together two of the world’s favourite actors in Dame Judi and Dustin is a dream come true. Richard and Paul have captured the magic of Roald Dahl’s wonderful tale and and I am thrilled that Dearbhla is to direct it.”
Richard Curtis has created many successful British films and television programmes. For Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot he rekindles his partnership with Paul Mayhew-Archer. Together they wrote The Vicar Of Dibley, which ran for five seasons and won many comedy awards.
Roald Dahl is one of the most enduring and successful children’s authors ever. To date, his books have sold over 100 million copies and continue to be loved and sold the world over.
Mr Hoppy, played by Dustin Hoffman, is a retired bachelor, who harbours a secret passion for his neighbour, the lovely Mrs Silver, Dame Judi Dench. Unfortunately she lavishes all her affection on another… Alfie, her pet tortoise. Mr Hoppy yearns to talk to Mrs Silver, but tongue-tied and shy, his attempts always end in disaster. Mrs Silver’s greatest wish is for her tortoise Alfie to grow a little bigger. All seems lost for Mr Hoppy until he has the brightest, most devious of ideas. Will Mr Hoppy’s wildly ingenious plot win the love of his lady?
Director Dearbhla Walsh has had international success including winning an Emmy for her direction of the Charles Dickens novel Little Dorrit. Other credits include Funland, The Tudors, Borgia and Talk To Me.
Hilary Bevan Jones won an Emmy for the BBC film The Girl In The Cafe, which was also written by Richard Curtis. She recently produced William Boyd’s two-part drama Restless and The Escape Artist by David Wolstencroft for the BBC.
Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot will be distributed by Red Arrow International.