Stellar cast announced as classic novel Watership Down lives on with new mini-series
This fantastic take on the novel will unite the whole family and bring this classic story to a new generationMatthew Read, BBC Drama Commissioning Editor
Beloved novel Watership Down will continue its adventure as today BBC One and Netflix announce the classic tale will be reinterpreted into a four-part animated mini-series set to air in 2017. The series will premiere 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 (Bafta-nominated My Mad Fat Diary) and directed by Noam Murro (300: Rise Of The Empire), will star James McAvoy (Filth, X-Men) as Hazel, Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men) as Fiver, award-winning Sir Ben Kingsley (Shutter Island, Iron Man 3) as General Woundwort, John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Attack The Block) as Bigwig, Gemma Arterton (Made In Dagenham) as Clover, Miles Jupp (Rev, The Thick Of It) as Blackberry, Freddie Fox (Pride) as Captain Holly, Olivia Colman (The Night Manager, The Lobster) as Strawberry, and Anne-Marie Duff (Suffragette) as Hyzenthlay.
The 4 x 60’ series is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix and produced by 42 and Noam Murro’s company Biscuit Films.
Matthew Read, BBC Drama Commissioning Editor, says: "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.”
Larry Tanz, Vice President Global Television, Netflix and Executive Producer, says: “We jumped at the chance to get in early and work alongside the BBC and 42 to bring this classic English tale to our members around the world. This novel presentation of Adams' work pairs great talent with beautiful animation and will delight existing fans and capture a whole new audience for this timeless story.”
Rory Aitken, Partner and Executive Producer, 42, says: “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.”
Josh Varney, Partner and Executive Producer, 42, adds: “I’ve loved this classic story since I was a child and we are fortunate to have been able to develop it with perfect partners in the BBC and Netflix, and to have such world-class talent to bring it to screen in a relevant and bold way.”
Noam Murro, Director and Executive Producer, Biscuit Films, says: “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.”
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. It will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
Executive Produced by Rory Aitken, Josh Varney, Ben Pugh and Eleanor Moran for 42, Noam Murro for Biscuit Films, and Matthew Read for BBC. The mini-series is co-directed by Pete Dodd and produced by Hugo Sands. Animation co-produced by Brown Bag Films, Dublin.