This Christmas Special definitely falls into the "fresh" approach. And it's all thanks to one man.
As Brian Trueman had for many of Cosgrove Hall's shows (and more), Joe Austen was a vital contributor to Storyland Ltd. During his time with the company he had created, written and illustrated just about everything for Storyland; some that sadly did not get enough establishment to be developed further (Bud, Atoz) while those that did became true little gems to those who remember them - these being The Magic House and The Story Store.
The company, in a desperate attempt to regain focus from today's generation, even snapped up the rights for Biker Mice From Mars...but that's another story.
Despite having a 13-episode run in 1995 on the CITV, the charm of Joe's imagination and the craftsmanship of the stop-motion models (by Mackinnon and Saunders, I believe) remains as fresh as ever. A brilliant series that ought to resurface even for a mere DVD release at least.
Even so, Joe got the chance to present a Christmas Special for 2002. While the TV Series had been narrated by the gentle Alan Bennett, Rory Bremner was called upon here when Bennett was taken ill. And thanks to everyone's efforts at Storyland Ltd, it retains all of the magic of the Story Store and more - there is a message somewhere like all Christmas Specials, but it's woven so delicately in this delightful tale that you'd hardly even notice ;-)
LINKS OF INTEREST: