Nearly a month after Channel 5 racked up complaints for broadcasting the infamously gory Watership Down over Easter, the BBC and Netflix reveal plans to work on a four-part miniseries.
The animated remake will feature a big name cast, including The Force Awakens star John Boyega as Bigwig, James McAvoy as Hazel and Sir Ben Kingsley as General Woundwort and is described as an ‘innovative interpretation’ of Richard Adams’s famous novel.
It’s currently unclear whether or not the latest take on Watership Down will be faithful to the source material – like the 1978 film – or if it will tone down some of the novel’s more violent elements, like the 1999 animated series did.
An early Radio Times report from a year ago suggests that it will be closer in spirit to the earlier adaptation, which featured the voices of John Hurt and Richard Briers. Pete Dodd (Fantastic Mr Fox, Frankenweenie) will head the animation team and co-direct Noam Murro (300: Rise Of The Empire), which gives us some idea of how the new Watership Down will look.
Commissioning editor for BBC Drama Matthew Read said: “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.”
Adams’s novel, first published in 1972, follows a group of rabbits fleeing their native warren on the eve of its destruction. Close encounters with snares, dogs and hostile bucks from other warrens is depicted unflinchingly in the original animation.
BBFC director David Austin told the BBC earlier this year that were Watership Down submitted for certification today, it would undoubtedly get a higher rating than its current U-status. Despite being available for nearly 40 years the film still generates a small number of complaints every year.