What do Patrick Macnee, Leo G. Carroll Susannah York and Miss Piggy have in common? A love of frogs? Nope. A love of space adventure? No, York was never a guest on "Pigs in Space," and the other two had their own spy shows. Give up? OK, they've all appeared in film versions of Charles Dickens' classic fantasy, A Christmas Carol.
Brian Henson, now President and Chief Executive Officer of Jim Henson Productions, emphasizes that "this isn't the Muppets putting on A Christmas Carol – this is Dickens' A Christmas Carol in a new full-length musical adaptation. For all practical purposes, Kermit and Miss Piggy are Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit.
"In previous films, the Muppets played themselves," Henson explains. "In this film, the Muppets play parts. The characters operate on two levels; first, they're the recognizable Muppet characters that we all know and whose actions and relationships we can anticipate, and then there are the characters they're playing."
Preview clips show the Cratchits with their children at home preparing for as cheerful a Christmas as possible. Of course, in accordance with the Dickens tale, they have children. This scene typifies how the characters operate on two levels, since the standard Muppet storyline has been a never-realized romance between Miss Piggy and Kermit. Screenwriter Jerry Juhl, who has worked with the characters since 1961, hints with an amused chuckle that there may have been discussions behind the scenes about having the Cratchit children appear as pigs with frog legs or frogs with snouts, but it was very quickly decided that the little girls would be pigs and the boys, frogs.