James McAvoy, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult and Ben Kingsley have joined the voice-cast of Netflix-BBC animated TV miniseries “Watership Down,” based on Richard Adams’ novel.
The four-part show, which will be finished next year, will be available worldwide, outside of the U.K., on Netflix, and on BBC One in the U.K.
Set in the idyllic rural landscape of southern England, the adventure tale 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, toward 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 McAvoy (“Filth,” “X-Men”) as Hazel, Hoult (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “X-Men”) as Fiver, Kingsley (“Shutter Island,” “Iron Man 3”) as General Woundwort, Boyega (“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”) 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 drama is co-directed by Pete Dodd (“Fantastic Mr Fox,” “Frankenweenie”), and produced by Hugo Sands. It is created in CG by an animation team led by Dodd and Sands, and the animation studio Brown Bag Films, based in Dublin.
The series is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix, and produced by 42 and Murro’s company Biscuit Films. It is executive produced by Rory Aitken, Josh Varney, Ben Pugh and Eleanor Moran for 42; Murro for Biscuit Films; and Matthew Read for the BBC. It will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
Larry Tanz, VP global television, Netflix, and executive producer, said: “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 Adam’s work pairs great talent with beautiful animation and will delight existing fans and capture a whole new audience for this timeless story.”
Matthew Read, BBC drama commissioning editor, said: “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.”