The Water Babies (film)

The Water Babies
Directed by Lionel Jeffries
Produced by Peter Shaw
Screenplay by Michael Robson
Lionel Jeffries (additional material)
Based on The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby
by Charles Kingsley
Starring James Mason
Bernard Cribbins
Billie Whitelaw
Joan Greenwood
David Tomlinson
Tommy Pendler
Samantha Gates
Music by Phil Coulter
Cinematography Edward Scaife
Edited by Peter Weatherley
Distributed by Pethurst International Ltd.
Release dates
  • 1978 (1978)
Running time
105 minutes
Country Poland
United Kingdom
Language English

The Water Babies is a 1978 live action-animated feature film, very loosely based on the book The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley. The film is directed by Lionel Jeffries.[1]


When a 12-year-old chimney sweep is wrongfully blamed for being a thief, he makes a run for it and ends up jumping into a violent river. There he encounters a civilisation of anthropomorphic underwater creatures. Before he can return to the surface and clear his name, however, he must help rescue his new friends, the Water Babies, from their nemesis. Featured voices include those of James Mason, Bernard Cribbins and Tommy Pender. The film starts and ends similarly to the book, though in the book Tom actually dies, and is only allowed above the sea on a temporary basis. The movie also adds a whole new subplot, involving a Killer Shark, an Electric Eel and the mythical Kraken, who decides whether or not Tom can return to the surface. There are also several invented characters, whom Tom befriends on his quest: Jock, a Scottish lobster, Terence, an effeminate starstruck Seahorse, and Claude, a foppish French swordfish.



Filmed on location in Yorkshire, England. Primarily based at Denton Hall, Wharfedale, early scenes are filmed in the city of York.


  1. "The Water Babies". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
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