This Christmas, BBC One is looking to open up a whole new world of trauma for youngsters, as it brings Watership Down back to our screens for an all-new animation. Now, we’ve got our first proper glimpse of what to expect.
The star-studded adaptation of Richard Adams’ bestselling novel boasts an impressive voice cast, featuring Hazel (voiced by James McAvoy), alongside Fiver (Nicholas Hoult), Bigwig (John Boyega), Clover (Gemma Arterton) and Strawberry (Olivia Colman). Other cast members include Daniel Kaluuya, Rosamund Pike, Peter Capaldi, Gemma Chan, Rory Kinnear, Tom Wilkinson, Ben Kingsley and Miles Jupp.
Adapted for the screen by Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary), the story unfolds in the idyllic rural landscape of southern England and follows a band of rabbits on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stout-hearted 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.
It will air on BBC One on 22nd and 23rd December, just in time for Chhristmas to wipe away the sad memories everyone may or may not have after watching. Here’s the trailer:
First look: BBC One and Netflix’s Watership Down
2nd November 2018
This Christmas, the BBC and Netflix will debut their new take on Watership Down, and we’ve got our first look at what the animated series looks like.
Adapted for the screen by Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary), Watership Down uses Richard Adams’ bestselling novel as its source to bring an innovative interpretation to the beloved story. 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 stout-hearted 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 cast is impressive, featuring Hazel (voiced by James McAvoy), alongside Fiver (Nicholas Hoult), Bigwig (John Boyega), Clover (Gemma Arterton) and Strawberry (Olivia Colman). Other cast members include Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther) and Rosamund Pike (A Private War, Gone Girl) as Bluebell and The Black Rabbit Of Inlé, with Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who, The Thick Of It) recently joining the cast as the seagull Kehaar.
Taron Egerton (Kingsman, Rocketman) has also joined the cast as El-Ahrairah, alongside Mackenzie Crook (Britannia, Detectorists) as Hawkbit, Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians, Humans) as Dewdrop, Jason Watkins (A Very English Scandal, The Crown) as Captain Orchis, Rory Kinnear (Peterloo, Skyfall) as Cowslip, Craig Parkinson (Line Of Duty, Indian Summers) as Sainfoin, Henry Goodman (Genius, Snatch) as Blackavar, Tom Wilkinson (The Happy Prince, Selma) as Threarah, Lee Ingleby (The A Word, Innocent) as Captain Campion, Charlotte Spencer (Line Of Duty, Glue) as Nettle, and Daniel Rigby (Flowers, Sick Note) as Dandelion. The cast is rounded out by Sir Ben Kingsley as General Woundwort, Freddie Fox as Captain Holly, Anne-Marie Duff as Hyzenthlay, and Miles Jupp as Blackberry.
The show will be accompanied by another big name: Sam Smith, who has recorded an original song for the mini-series. The Grammy, Brit and Academy award-winning artist was inspired by Richard Adams’ classic novel to write and record Fire On Fire, an original song that will serve as the theme. It was co-written with Steve Mac and was recorded by Sam Smith with the BBC Concert Orchestra at London’s Abbey Road Studios in September 2018.
Director and Executive Producer for Biscuit Entertainment Noam Murro says: “I’m blown away that Sam Smith is bringing his singular voice to our adaptation of Watership Down. With Fire On Fire he’s created a theme song that connects with the heart of this iconic story. Bringing this story to life has been a long and incredible journey made by the immensely talented and dedicated cast and crew. I can’t wait to share the full series with the world this Christmas.”
Watership Down will be shown on BBC One as two special feature length episodes on BBC One and will be released worldwide outside of the UK on Netflix.
BBC and Netflix team up for Watership Down series
28th April 2018
The BBC and Netflix are teaming up to co-produce a new series based on Watership Down.
Richard Adams’ bestselling story, set in the idyllic rural landscape of southern England, is a tale of adventure, courage and survival – and, if you ever saw the previous feature film based on the book, a harrowing traumatic experience that scarred your childhood forever. It 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 new animated mini-series, produced and developed by 42 and Noam Murro’s company Biscuit Films, promises to bring an “innovative interpretation” to the novel and will be split into four parts. The show will premiere on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix outside of the UK.
Written by My Mad Fat Diary’s Tom Bidwell and directed by 300: Rise Of The Empire’s Noam Murro, the cast is as star-studded as it gets, with James McAvoy voicing Hazel, Nicholas Hoult voicing Fiver, Sir Ben Kingsley voicing General Woundwort, John Boyega voicing Bigwig, Gemma Arterton voicing Clover, Miles Jupp voicing Blackberry, and Olivia Colman voicing Strawberry.
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, adds: “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.”
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.
The partnership between the BBC and Netflix continues a growing trend for both organisations; the BBC recently co-produced its adaptation of The Night Manager with AMC, while Netflix is increasingly seeking to co-finance productions to build its library of content it can release worldwide to all of its subscribers without worrying about negotiating territorial rights. “I wish we had done the deal with The Night Manager,” Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, told RadioTimes.
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