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January 1st 2007, 6.20pm, BBC One




The Wind in the Willows is a classic British story written by Kenneth Grahame and first published in 1908. The characters were originally proper animals such as Rat, Toad and Mole, but in this new BBC series the characters are more humanoid.



Toad, Mole, Rat and Badger come to life in a thrilling adventure, featuring an all-star cast as you've never seen them before.

Shy Mole (Lee Ingleby) leaves his hole one spring and is entranced by the world he discovers along the riverbank.

He makes friends with the water-loving Rat, and soon encounters Mr Toad (Matt Lucas), an enthusiastic and mischievous lover of all new things, especially fast cars.

But Toad's wild ways and his love of motoring get him into serious trouble. With the help of wise old Badger (Bob Hoskins), can the woodland friends come to his aid? Will Toad ever change his ways?
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Famous faces are subtly transformed into Kenneth Grahame's much loved animal characters.

For Matt Lucas this means being dressed in green with a false belly and stick-on warts.

"It's an hour in make-up," reveals Matt, "I have strange eye sockets that make me look quite different with enlarged eyebrows. To get inside the skin of Toad I use gestures that are toad-like.

"Toad's a wonderful iconic character, very proud and arrogant but lovable. He's a dandy and a wastrel."

Did you know?

Writer Kenneth Grahame originally created the adventures of Toad, in letter form, to amuse his son, born in 1900. The book was published in 1908.

We learn about life on the riverbank through the experiences of Mole, played by Lee Ingleby.

"For my teeth, they put an enamel paint on," explains Lee, "I don't mind the look. It just comes off when you are talking sometimes, which is disconcerting. My nose is prosthetic and it's strange to have that."

Film star Bob Hoskins suffers for his art as Badger.

"My shoulders, joints and back all ache from playing this part," reveals Bob.

"It's because I've given him a certain walk, all hunched shoulders and moving from side to side. I wanted to get the correct Badger posture but as a result I've got all the aches and pains!"

Did you know?

The Wind in the Willows' Costume Designer Vinilla Burnham, previously created animal costumes, including Aslan, in the BBC's The Chronicles of Narnia. She also designed the batsuit for the 1989 Batman film.

Matt Gatiss explains how he brings Rat to life.

"I'm mostly human, but I just do the odd thing like standing in a different way, or when I'm running, I try to make it more animated," says Mark.

"I thought the twitches, as long as they're kept subtle, would be good, and I hold my hand, or paw, in a certain way.

"My real nose looks like a prosthetic nose and I have sticky out ratty ears, which look very convincing. The teeth are a bit uncomfortable because they are on wire and clip on, but they give you such a good look."

The Wind in the Willows was filmed in Bucharest, and has been adapted by Lee Hall, who previously wrote Billy Elliot.


Actor Profiles


Bob Hoskins *
Badger

Bob's been the star of many hit movies, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit? More recently he went looking for dinosaurs in The Lost World .


Matt Lucas
Toad

Matt's used to dressing up in unusual costumes in Little Britain . Read more about Matt


Mark Gatiss *
Rat

Mark's written episodes of Doctor Who and played many characters as part of The League of Gentlemen .


Lee Ingleby *
Mole

Lee's more used to playing tough characters in dramas such as Life on Mars and The Street .


Imelda Staunton
The Barge Lady

Read more about Imelda


Anna Maxwell Martin *
The Gaoler's Daughter

bbc.co.uk/drama