The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said `Bother!'
A regular on the BBC drama series The Street, in which he played Sean, a violent and possessive bully, Lee Ingleby has also appeared in the television programs Life On Mars, Hustle, Spaced and The Bill.
His feature film credits include Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (as Stan Shunpike) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (as Midshipman Hollom).
...As (Mole) gazed, something bright and small seemed to twinkle down in the heart of it, vanished, then twinkled once more like a tiny star. But it could hardly be a star in such an unlikely situation; and it was too glittering and small for a glow-worm. Then, as he looked, it winked at him, and so declared itself to be an eye; and a small face began gradually to grow up round it, like a frame round a picture.
A brown little face, with whiskers.
A grave round face, with the same twinkle in its eye that had first attracted his notice.
Small neat ears and thick silky hair.
It was the Water Rat!
Mark Gatiss, one quarter of the award-winning comedy team 'The League of Gentlemen,' is an accomplished author, actor and playwright. A graduate of Bretton Hall Drama College, he has made numerous television appearances including roles in Footballers' Wives, Spaced and Miss Marple: Murder at the Vicarage. He provided the voice of Miss Blight in 2005's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and can be seen in Starter for Ten (2006) with James McAvoy.
Gatiss and his fellow League of Gentlemen (Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson) have won BAFTA awards, RTS Television awards and, in 1997, the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They were the first sketch group to win since the Festival began in 1981.
There was a rustle behind them, proceeding from a hedge wherein last year's leaves still clung thick, and a stripy head, with high shoulders behind it, peered forth on them.
`Come on, old Badger!' shouted the Rat.
The Badger trotted forward a pace or two; then grunted, `H'm! Company,' and turned his back and disappeared from view.
`That's just the sort of fellow he is!' observed the disappointed Rat. `Simply hates Society!
Suffolk-born Bob Hoskins has been an actor for more than 30 years. His first major role was in 1978's BBC miniseries Pennies From Heaven, in which he played Arthur, a sheet music salesman. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1987 for his role in Mona Lisa; other noteworthy films have included Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Long Good Friday and Mrs. Henderson Presents.
Hoskins' work on television has included Masterpiece Theatre's David Copperfield, in which he played Mr. Micawber opposite The Wind in the Willows co-star Imelda Staunton. He has also worked extensively on the stage.
...From where they sat they could get a glimpse of the main stream across the island that separated them; and just then a wager-boat flashed into view, the rower -- a short, stout figure -- splashing badly and rolling a good deal, but working his hardest. The Rat stood up and hailed him, but Toad -- for it was he -- shook his head and settled sternly to his work...
Londoner Matt Lucas is primarily known as a comedian though he studied drama at Bristol University and has performed with the National Youth Theatre. He has received several BAFTA nominations and won Best Comedy Performance for Little Britain, a comedy sketch show he helped create, in 2003. He played Cousin Tom in the 2004 zombie film Shaun of the Dead. He appeared as Villars in Masterpiece Theatre's Casanova.
... Now the gaoler had a daughter, a pleasant wench and good-hearted, who assisted her father in the lighter duties of his post. She was particularly fond of animals, and, besides her canary, whose cage hung on a nail in the massive wall of the keep by day, to the great annoyance of prisoners who relished an after dinner nap, and was shrouded in an antimacassar on the parlour table at night, she kept several piebald mice and a restless revolving squirrel. This kind-hearted girl, pitying the misery of Toad, said to her father one day, `Father! I can't bear to see that poor beast so unhappy, and getting so thin! You let me have the managing of him. You know how fond of animals I am. I'll make him eat from my hand, and sit up, and do all sorts of things.'
A native of East Yorkshire, England, Anna Maxwell Martin starred in Masterpiece Theatre's Bleak House as Esther Summerson, a role for which she won the BAFTA Best Actress Award. She has appeared in the films Becoming Jane (as Cassandra Austen) and Enduring Love, the stage production of His Dark Materials, and she played Daphne Manners in Radio 4's adaptation of The Jewel In The Crown.
In 2004, she played Bessie Higgins in North & South, voted the top drama of the year by BBC viewers.
... With a pleasant swirl of quiet water at its blunt bow the barge slid up alongside of him, its gaily painted gunwale level with the towing-path, its sole occupant a big stout woman wearing a linen sun-bonnet, one brawny arm laid along the tiller.
`A nice morning, ma'am!' she remarked to Toad, as she drew up level with him...
Imelda Staunton has been seen previously on Masterpiece Theatre as Mother in My Family and Other Animals. Born in Archway, north London, in January 1956, Staunton won a BAFTA for the role of post-war backstreet abortionist Vera Drake, and was nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award and an Academy Award for Best Actress. Other memorable performances have included Margaret Campbell in Freedom Writers, Charlotte in 1995's Sense and Sensibility and the cook, Mrs. Blatherwick, in Nanny McPhee.
Director Mike Leigh has described Staunton as "...brilliant. She has great warmth, compassion and humanity and a great sense of humor. Also she has not a grain of sentimentality, she is very rooted in the real world." In 2006 Staunton received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to drama.
She will debut as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007.