Idris Elba and Tom Hollander will lend their voices to a TV adaptation of Charlie Mackesy’s bestselling illustrated book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse.

This Christmas, the author and illustrator’s distinctive images will be reimagined in full colour with hand-drawn traditional animations for the BBC short film.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse was released in 2019 and explores the friendship between the four titular characters as they journey together in search of a home.

75th Cannes Film FestivalIdris Elba (Doug Peters/PA)

Hollander, whose credits include The Night Manager and Bohemian Rhapsody, will voice the mole, while Hollywood star Elba will voice the fox.

Veteran Irish actor Gabriel Byrne will feature as the horse and newcomer Jude Coward Nicoll will be the boy.

The short film is produced by Star Wars director JJ Abrams and Hannah Minghella of Bad Robot Productions, with an original score by composer Isobel Waller-Bridge, sister of Fleabag star Phoebe.

Mackesy said: “The journey of making the film of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse with my ridiculously talented and kind animation team has been a magical one.

“It’s so great to think the story will be in the nation’s homes this Christmas – and I really hope it helps bring comfort, love and laughter.”

V&A Summer Party – LondonTom Hollander (Matt Crossick/PA)

Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s chief content officer, said: “Charlie Mackesy’s heart-warming and inspirational story brought to life through NoneMore Productions’ and Bad Robot Productions’ beautiful animation, is about the importance of love, kindness and friendship.

“It’s the perfect fit for Christmas on the BBC and a reminder to us all about what really matters in this world.”

After its publication in 2019, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse was named Book of the Year by Waterstones and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards’ Nonfiction Lifestyle Book of the Year.

Mackesy, 59, previously worked with Nelson Mandela on a lithograph project, The Unity Series, and also helps support a honey social enterprise in Zambia.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse will air on BBC One and iPlayer this Christmas.