James McAvoy to star in BBC1 adaptation of Watership Down

Classic story reanimated for BBC1/Netflix

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Husband & wife James McAvoy & Anne-Marie Duff star.

BBC One has announced a star-studded cast for a new four-part adaptation of Richard Adams’ bestselling story, Watership Down.

A co-production between BBC One and Netflix, and written by Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary), Watership Down will star an all-star cast, including 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) as Bigwig, Gemma Arterton (Made In Dagenham) as Clover, Miles Jupp (Rev) as Blackberry, Freddie Fox (Pride) as Captain Holly, Olivia Colman (The Night Manager) as Strawberry, and Anne-Marie Duff (Suffragette) as Hyzenthlay.

Set in the idyllic rural landscape of southern England, Watership Down is a tale of adventure, courage and survival, and 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.

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.”

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.”

The new reinterpretation of Watership Down is produced by 42 and Biscuit Films. The CG animation team is led by Pete Dodd (Fantastic Mr Fox, Frankenweenie) and Hugo Sands; along with the animation studio Brown Bag Films, based in Dublin.

Watership Down is set to air on BBC One in 2017 in the UK and on Netflix internationally.