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Landmark: Watership Down

An ecological fable about a perfect society ? Matthew Sweet reads Richard Adams' classic as a new TV version is broadcast, and looks at other rabbits both real and fictional.

An ecological fable about a perfect society which terrified children when it was first animated. Matthew Sweet reads Richard Adams' classic as a new version arrives on UK TV screens. He's joined by Dr Diana Bell, conservation biologist at UEA; Victoria Dickenson, author of Rabbit, a cultural history of rabbits; Brian Sibley, adaptor of the novel for a radio version and New Generation Thinker Lisa Mullen to debate rabbits both real and fictional.

First published in 1972, Adams' novel follows rabbits escaping the destruction of their warren. Adams said that he told the tale to his daughters on car journeys and he rejected comparisons with the Bible tale of Moses and other religious symbolism. What do portrayals of rabbits in literature and film, from Peter Rabbit to Bugs Bunny, tell us about our own society? Matthew Sweet remembers being scared by the first animated film released in 1978. Now a new one from BBC TV and Netflix features the voices of James McAvoy, John Boyega and Gemma Arterton.

Producer: Harry Parker

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45 minutes

Podcast