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Roald Dahl Story Company assembles all-star cast for James and the Giant Peach readings

David Murphy

The Roald Dahl Story Company has brought together Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, The Mandalorian, Jojo Rabbit) and a host of global stars including Ryan Reynolds, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Lupita Nyong'o and Cara Delevingne to retell the beloved children’s novel James and the Giant Peach in full, across 10 episodes exclusively on the Roald Dahl YouTube channel.

The first two episodes of James and the Giant Peach, with Taika and Friends, are available globally now, featuring Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nick Kroll, and brothers Chris and Liam Hemsworth reading portions of the book from their homes.

New episodes will be published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and viewers can expect appearances from a host of collaborators, with big names from the worlds of film, television, fashion and music coming together to perform each section of the tale. The line-up of readers has over 40 Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tony award wins between them.

As well as other surprise readers, the following stars will all read along with Taika over the course of 10 episodes: Utkarsh Ambudkar, Cate Blanchett, Jamie Cullum, Benedict Cumberbatch, Roman Griffin Davis, Cara Delevingne, Cynthia Erivo, Beanie Feldstein, Josh Gad, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Hemsworth, Mindy Kaling, Nick Kroll, Kumail Nanjiani, Lupita Nyong'o, Sarah Paulson, Billy Porter, Gordon Ramsay, Eddie Redmayne, Ryan Reynolds, Ben Schwartz, Meryl Streep, Tessa Thompson, Olivia Wilde, Ruth Wilson and Archie Yates.

Overall, the Roald Dahl Story Company will be donating over £1m to charities impacted by COVID-19, including Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity in the UK, which provides specialist nurses to care for seriously ill children.

The collaboration between the Roald Dahl Story Company, Waititi and his illustrious line up of friends specifically aims to raise money for Partners In Health, a medical and social justice organisation fighting COVID-19 in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world.

As part of its charitable commitment at this time, the Roald Dahl Story Company will match the first $1m of donations to Partners In Health, with partners also lined up for matching beyond this milestone. People can donate to Partners In Health here.

The campaign forms part of a long-term charitable commitment for the Story Company, which in conjunction with the Dahl family, has given over £10m to charitable causes to date.

Waititi was recently announced as the writer, director and executive producer of two original Roald Dahl animated series for Netflix as part of an extended raft of animated Roald Dahl TV. He will develop an original series based on the world and characters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and develop an original show centred on the Oompa-Loompas.

He said: “Being an adult child myself and having read James and the Giant Peach to my girls multiple times, I’m excited to be able to partner with my friends, the Dahl team and Partners In Health and re-tell this story to help those most in need right now. This wacky, wonderful tale is about resilience in children, triumph over adversity and dealing with a sense of isolation which couldn't be more relevant today.”

Ophelia Dahl, Roald Dahl’s daughter and founder of Partners In Health, added: “My dad instilled in us as kids the notion that imagination will spark a chain reaction of possibilities – we can dream endlessly about ideas and make them real. This early training meant it was not such a leap to envision Partners in Health with my friends. Roald was one of our earliest and most enthusiastic supporters and never let me leave for Haiti without stuffing a massive wad of cash in my hand to put towards the next project. You can see from his stories that he always supported the most vulnerable and those excluded from opportunity. PIH was the perfect match.”