The saddest, most horrifying children’s cartoon ever created outside of Japanese Manga will be getting a reboot in 2017 with a new Watership Down mini-series planned by the BBC, and it’s shaping up to be a star studded line-up behind the CGI reinvention. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens star John Boyega on the line-up, along with the Hollywood clout of James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book (2016)), it’s going to be one of the must see TV productions of 2o17.
The four-part mini-series will air in 2017, but the date is yet to be confirmed. Each of the episodes will be one hour long, so it’s going to be a fairly detailed re-imagining of the tales from Watership Down. The series has been scheduled to premiere on BBC One in the UK, and internationally on Netflix.
The story will have similarities to the 1972 Richard Adams novel and 1978 animation classic, but with more of a modern reinterpretation behind it. It once again focuses on a band of rabbits that are being forced off their land as a result of the interference of man, with brothers Fiver and Hazel leading the way. They’ll have a very wild countryside to try to navigate through with friends, predators and foes as they leave behind the comfort of their Sandleford Warren to find a new safe life.
In addition to John Boyega as Bigwig, Sir Ben Kingsley as General Woundwart and James McAvoy as Hazel, Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) will star as Fiver, Gemma Arterton (Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time) plays Clover, and Olivia Colman (The Night Manager) plays Strawberry. The cast also includes Miles Jupp (The Thick Of It) as Blackberry, Freddie Fox (Pride) as Captain Holly and Anne-Marie Duff (Suffragette) as Hyzenthlay.
The co-production between the BBC and Netflix was produces and developed by 42 and Noam Murro, with the latter also taking on the responsibility for directing the production. The mini-series has been written by Tom Bidwell, working from the incredible work of Richard Adams. The 42 animation team is being led by Pete Dodd (Fantastic Mr Fox) and Hugo Sands, who will be working with Dublin-based animation studio Brown Bag Films, to complete the CGI. The executive producers are Rory Aitken, Josh Varney, Ben Pugh and Eleanor Moran for 42, Noam Murro for Biscuit Films, and Matthew Read for BBC.
With so many big names behind the show, along with the collective might of both BBC 1 and Netflix, we’re expecting something pretty impressive from the mini-series. It’ll instantly have a lot to live up to in the original book and animated film, but it’s already looking like it’s getting the attention it deserves. A lot will depend on the animation style in terms of how well it can recapture the adventure and harrowing drama of the story, so we’ll be looking out for the trailer when it lands ahead of the 2017 air date.