TV - Watership Down

A stellar cast is announced for the new BBC mini-series of Watership Down...

The much-beloved (and, to many, highly traumatising) novel Watership Down will continue its adventure as BBC One and Netflix announce the classic tale will be reinterpreted into a four-part animated mini-series set to air next year, showing on BBC One in the UK; and worldwide, outside of the UK, on Netflix.

Set in the idyllic rural landscape of southern England, this tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of rabbits on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, towards a promised land and a more perfect society.

The series, written by Tom Bidwell and directed by Noam Murro, will star James McAvoy as Hazel, Nicholas Hoult as Fiver, award-winning Sir Ben Kingsley as General Woundwort, John Boyega as Bigwig, Gemma Arterton as Clover, Miles Jupp as Blackberry, Freddie Fox as Captain Holly, Olivia Colman as Strawberry and Anne-Marie Duff) as Hyzenthlay.

Director Noam Murro said “Like many generations of readers Richard Adams' novel had a profound effect on me and is a true masterpiece. Tom Bidwell has beautifully captured the spirit of the novel and brought it to life for a contemporary audience and I’m thrilled to be working with the BBC, Netflix and 42 to bring this to the screen.”

Matthew Read, BBC Drama Commissioning Editor, noted "Before there was Harry Potter there was Watership Down; Richard Adams’ novel is one of the most successful books of all time and one of the biggest selling books in history. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to bring a modern classic to a mainstream BBC One audience with such an incredible roster of actors alongside the talented team overseeing the animation. This fantastic take on the novel will unite the whole family, and bring this classic story to a new generation.”

The drama is created in CG by the animation team, led by Pete Dodd (Fantastic Mr Fox, Frankenweenie) and Hugo Sands; along with the animation studio Brown Bag Films, based in Dublin. 

Executive Co-Producer Rory Aitken said, “Adapting this much-loved novel in a fresh and innovative way is a truly exciting opportunity. Telling the story over four hours of CG animation allows us to explore the characters from the novel and their adventure in a way not previously achievable on screen.”

The mini-series is co-directed by Pete Dodd and produced by Hugo Sands. Animation co-produced by Brown Bag Films, Dublin. It will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

Image - BBC
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